In Scandinavia the State provides knickerbockers, tunics, and gymnasium shoes for those children whose parents are too poor to provide them; and again, in Scandinavia there is very frequently the provision of bathrooms in which the pupils can have a shower bath and rub-down after the exercises. These bathrooms in connection with the gymnasia need not necessarily be costly; indeed many of them in Stockholm and Denmark merely consist of troughs in the cement floor, on the edge of which the children sit in a row while they receive a shower bath over their heads and bodies. The feet get well washed in the trough, and the smart douche of water on head and shoulders acts as an admirable tonic.
Another exercise which ought to be specially dear to a nation of islanders is swimming, and this, again, is a relatively cheap luxury too much neglected amongst us. Certainly there are public baths, but there are not enough to permit of all the elementary school children bathing even once a week, and still less have they the opportunity of learning to swim. There is much to be done yet before we can be justly proud of our national system of education. We must not lose sight of the ideal with which we started—viz. that we should endeavour to do the best that is possible for our young people in body, soul, and spirit. The three parts of our nature are intertwined, and a duty performed to one part has an effect on the whole.
Care of the adolescent girl in sickness.
If measured by the death-rate the period of adolescence should cause us little anxiety, but a careful examination into the state of health of children of school age shows us that it is a time in which disorders of health abound, and that although these disorders are not necessarily, nor even generally, fatal, they are frequent, they spoil the child’s health, and inevitably bear fruit in the shape of an injurious effect on health in after life.
That the health of adolescents should be unstable is what we ought to expect from the general instability of the organism due to the rapidity of growth and the remarkable developmental changes that are crowded into these few years. Rapidity of growth and increase of weight are very generally recognised, although their effects upon health are apt to be overlooked. On the other hand, the still more remarkable development that occurs in adolescence is very generally ignored.
As a general rule the infectious fevers, the so-called childish diseases—such as measles, chicken-pox, and whooping-cough—are less common in adolescence than they are in childhood, while the special diseases of internal organs due to their overwork, or to their natural tendency to degeneration, is yet far in the future. The chief troubles of adolescents appear to be due to overstress which accompanies rapid development, to the difficulty of the whole organism in adapting itself to new functions and altered conditions, and no doubt in some measure to the unwisdom both of the young people and of their advisers.