This paper is a critical review of the question whether education is preventive of crime. The authors point out that a great change has come over informed opinion since the time when Guizot coined his famous epigram that the opening of a school meant the closing of a prison. So far from this optimistic prediction having been realised, we now seen that in almost every country the spread of education has been attended with an increase in the amount of criminality; and those who defend the obscurantist thesis are able to quote statistics showing, as do those of Joly for France, that the wealthier and the better educated classes have a higher rate of criminality than the poorer and more ignorant, or they can even claim that in some countries, as, for instance, in Portugal, the least criminal members of the community are those who are most illiterate. While admitting the increase in criminality, and admitting, too, that there has also been an upward movement in prostitution (as to this the statistical evidence is not clearly indicated), in suicide, and in insanity, the authors dispute the conclusion that this is to be attributed to the coincident spread of popular education, and they argue that the facts are to be explained with more probability when we take account of the growth of industrialism and of town life during the same period. As confirming this view, they point out that in Italy the increase in juvenile crime has been shown to keep pace with the increased employment of children and young persons in factories.
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