LAST FEBRUARY in Toronto an eight-year-old child, Judy Carter, disappeared while walking home from school. For forty-three days police and civilian volunteers dragged ice-choked rivers, tramped through frozen ravines, searched tawdry boardinghouses and peered under debris in vacant lots. In the long weeks before her body was found, strangled by a still unknown killer, it was assumed that the little girl had been the victim of what society used to call a sex maniac, later termed a sex pervert and currently calls a sex deviate or sex offender.
The apparent nature of the crime touched off a wave of revulsion across the country— as sex crimes always do and brought, out demands, freshened by anger and fear but as ancient as the Book of Genesis, that the law, police or doctors do something to remove the menace of the sex criminal. Usually such outbursts of public feeling soon die out, having accomplished absolutely nothing. This one resulted in something almost unprecedented—the formation of a militantly hopeful organization called the Parents’ Action League with a businesslike plan for protecting Canada’s children against sex criminals and, where possible, for protecting the criminals against themselves.
No crime stirs public opinion so quickly and uneasily as a sex crime. Sex crimes appear to be rare statistically: of 41,591 convictions for criminal offenses in Canada in 1952, only 870 were for sex offenses. This is a proportion of 2.1 percent. But the statistics reflect only a fraction of sex crimes. Most are never reported to the police, because of embarrassment, ignorance of the law or fear of public humiliation. No one can guess how many Canadian parents whose children are molested refuse to notify the police in their anxiety to have their children forget the matter. “Rape with violence on an adult is almost always reported,” John Chisholm, Toronto’s police chief, recently commented. “Rape of a child is usually reported. For the rest, we can’t even imagine how much goes on.”
Among the few statistics available, those of the California Preliminary Report on Sex Crimes point to the estimate that not more than twenty percent of such offenses as rape and child molestation are reported to the police. Another estimate claims that for every sex crime reported, one hundred are committed. All estimates, even those by the most responsible observers, are out of whack with one another.
Another difficulty in assessing the problem of sex crimes by means of statistics is that many sex crimes are listed under other headings, such as arson, murder, assault or robbery. Dr. Kenneth Gray has discovered in the Forensic Clinic of the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital that many criminals convicted of a non-sex offense and sent to him for examination were motivated almost entirely by sex abnormalities. Pyromaniacs almost invariably commit their crimes for sexual satisfaction. One survey of the motives for shoplifting listed as a first reason sexual thrill.
Until all criminals are forced to undergo psychiatric examination— a Utopian arrangement recommended by the most advanced criminologists—the number of so-called normal crimes that are motivated by sex cannot be determined. Some, however, are self-evident. A fifteen-year-old girl walking down a street in New York was followed by a strange man. He came up behind her, said “Hi honey!” and stabbed her in the back with a nail file. He then walked away casually, completely gratified. Women in Montreal were terrified a little over a year ago by a slasher who cut their legs with a razor blade to gain perverted pleasure.
In Canada the prevention of sex crime has been tragically neglected. Although a law exists to lock away habitual sex criminals for life, it is almost never invoked. Although prison sentences and whippings are proved to be no deterrent to sex crimes, they are still the only weapons in existence.
Nowhere in Canada is a thorough and systematic effort made, before he is discharged from custody, to determine that the sex criminal will not repeat his crime. No effective interest is taken in the possibility that he may be incapable of controlling his sexual behavior. Nowhere is he given sufficient psychiatric treatment to cure his aberration. He is returned to society older, not better. One U. S. judge likened the releasing of a sex offender after a prison term to “turning a mad dog loose.”
The future holds two possibilities for improvement: One is a royal commission, now completing its sittings, whose report may have the effect of strengthening Canadian law. The other is the Parents’ Action League the organization that was formed after Judy Carter’s disappearance. The league, an alliance of concerned housewives and scientists, is confined thus far to Ontario. But it hopes in time to gain support for its proposed reforms in all parts of the country.
The league, now known as PAL, was started by three Toronto housewives, armed with their telephones and the momentum of public alarm. It aims to promote research into sexual deviation, research that may throw new light on its cause, and to establish clinics where all convicted sex offenders can be given psychiatric and psychological examination. In such clinics it is hoped that as many as half the sex offenders treated can be cured. Under the league’s blueprint for reform the remainder, if they menace society, would be kept in preventive detention for life under a more far-reaching law.
The league began, namelessly, with a telephone call. At the time of Judy Carter’s disappearance, Toronto newspapers were filled with stories of sex crimes. Attorney-General Dana Porter announced that Toronto alone had more than one thousand known sex deviates walking the streets. Already disturbed by such pronouncements, Bertha Shvemar, wife of a Toronto pharmacist and mother of two small children, was further alarmed by a magazine article stressing the menace to children of sex deviates. The writer urged readers to form pressure groups to force the government to act. Mrs. Shvemar telephoned a friend, Ethel Hahn, the wife of a Toronto accountant.
“Effie,” she said, “let’s do something about, this!”
“Sure,” replied her friend. “Let’s get at it now.”
Mrs. Hahn and Mrs. Shvemar began by phoning lawyers, members of the Women Electors’ Association and doctors for information. They doggedly tracked down information and opinions from voices they met only over the telephone. They discovered almost at once that another Toronto mother and housewife, Mrs. Ethel Dorfman, was already circulating petitions, one of which was printed by the Toronto Telegram. The women joined forces. Mrs. Dorfman, they found, was a radio and television singer who used the professional name of Evelyn Pasen.
They began by phoning their friends, asking each one to phone ten other housewives, explain the need for a pressure group and request that each of the ten call ten more. Their plans were shapeless but they envisioned a massive organization of indignant women. They called themselves the “Mothers’ Crusade” for a few days and then abandoned the name. Their aims were equally mercurial. Each day they piled up twenty to thirty telephone calls apiece to psychiatrists, policemen and politicians; their mailboxes were clogged with reports, statistics, surveys and suggestions. As their knowledge grew, their opinions altered.
“WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?”
They fought, with discouragement every day.
“We’ve had the problem of perverts with us since Sodom and Gomorrah,” one politician snapped. “What makes you think you can do anything about it?”
“Do you want, to be responsible for locking some man away for life?” one of the husbands asked.
“When I was younger I used to try to do something about sexual deviates,” a psychiatrist told them. “I was knocking my head against a brick wall and I gave up. I advise you to do the same.”
Some neighbors showed symptoms of jealousy and snorted, “Who do you think you are?” Some were amused and suggested titles for the organization along the lines of the “League of Purity” and t he “Society for the Prevention of Sex.”
“Are you girls for or against sex?” one psychiatrist chuckled.
“We’ll call an executive meeting and let you know,” retorted Mrs. Shvemar. “In the meantime, have you any information about a report submitted ...”
“Get a name,” Toronto Telegram reporter Ron Kenyon moaned one day. “We don’t know what to call you.” Mr. Shvemar thought of one, Parents’ Action League, one morning over breakfast. By noon several thousand newspaper readers knew it and PAL was on its way toward finding out what was needed to solve the strange riddle of sexual deviates.
The idea of clinics for sex offenders is not original with the league. Both California and New Jersey have had such clinics in operation for several years to study, sort and treat sexual deviates and these probably would set the pattern for any Canadian clinic. In those states, all convicted sex offenders are compelled by law to undergo prolonged psychiatric examination in the clinics. Those found mentally ill are sent., with the approval of the courts, to mental hospitals. Others are certified as criminal sexual psychopaths, a legal term indicating that the offender cannot control his urge to commit a serious sex offense, such as rape or molesting children. Criminal sexual psychopaths are given indeterminate sentences, which means they stay behind bars until they are either cured or dead. The rest of the sex offenders, those found to be nuisances rather than menaces to society and those who demonstrate an ability to control their behavior, are returned to jail to serve their normal sentences or else are paroled.
Canada also has a law, passed seven years ago, providing indeterminate sentences for criminal sexual psychopaths. California, with a population approximately two thirds that of Canada, had handed out eleven hundred indeterminate sentences in a twelve-year period. Canadian prisons currently contain nineteen criminal sexual psychopaths. The House of Commons, aware that our seven-year-old piece of legislation designed to protect society was being almost ignored, last year set up a royal commission under Chief Justice J. C. McRuer to study the problem of the criminal sexual psychopath. The commission has almost completed its sittings in the ten capital cities of the provinces and its report is expected early next year.
In the meantime, some observers feel that the main difficulty with the application of the law is that all sex offenders convicted of major crimes are not compelled to be examined by psychiatrists to determine whether or not they are criminal sexual psychopaths. The way the law is set up at present, the offender is first tried for the specific crime of which he is accused. Then, if he’s convicted (of indecent assault, for example) the crown may also seek to have him declared a criminal sexual psychopath and have him put away indefinitely. To do this, psychiatrists must testify at a second trial that the prisoner is indeed a psychopath. Few crown attorneys have been willing to bother and psychiatrists are reluctant to testify because they aren’t sure what constitutes a psychopath. One definition of psychopath lists sixteen characteristics, but no one needs to manifest all sixteen to be a psychopath and one might display all sixteen characteristics and not be a psychopath.
The result of the royal commission’s report is expected to be a clarification of the Criminal Code as it applies to criminal sexual psychopaths, but this will be only the beginning of a solution. As the report of the California Sexual Deviation Research Committee stated; "The present barrier to more effective control of sexual deviates is not a lack of penal laws but insufficient scientific knowledge.”
For this reason the new Parents’ Action League is emphasizing the need for research. No program of prevention, the league insists, can be instituted ahead of a program to study cause. No institutions for treatment can be established before we know how many offenders will need treatment. A few studies suggest that the average sex offender is a good parole risk, but no research program has ever been inclusive enough to prove it. No one even knows for certain if sex deviates can be cured at all.
"The hallmark of the true expert in this field is humility,” comments Dr. J. D. Atcheson, psychiatrist with the Toronto Juvenile Court and a member of PAL. "We just don’t know.”
Long known as "the group between crime and disease,” sexual deviates have been a puzzle for centuries. Canadian courts convict about eight hundred sex offenders a year; guesses at the probable population of sexual deviates in Canada start at ten thousand and range into the millions, depending on the individual definition of sexual deviation.
What causes a sexual deviate? Why would an intelligent college-educated teacher seduce a boy of ten, as happened in Toronto a few weeks ago? Why would a handsome young husky rape a feeble old woman? Why do some elderly men with previously blameless reputations molest moppets of five and six? What goes wrong in a male to cause him to prefer his own sex? What kind of a father would desire his own daughter?
To deal with the topic at all, most authorities first separate those who are a menace to society and those who are merely a nuisance. The latter classification includes the fetishists who derive sensual enjoyment from feeling women’s clothing, often stolen from clotheslines, the Peeping Toms, the purveyors of pornographic material and the exhibitionists.
"Those men usually are cowards,” commented a veteran of Toronto Police Department’s morality squad. "They’ll never hurt anyone.”
But it is a much uglier menace against which the bulk of public concern, crystalized by such groups as the Parents’ Action League, is leveled. These are the men who have shattered universal taboos that transcend continents and centuries against incest, sex by force and sex with young children. These are the men whose victims and potential victims are in danger of murder, of permanent emotional or mental shock, in some cases of being "converted” to abnormal sexual behavior themselves.
Their acts, at least those that make the headlines, are so monstrous that many believe the men who commit them must be a clearly recognizable group of shambling, drooling, vicious-looking men. This is completely untrue; sex offenders come from all levels of society and represent all levels of education, intelligence and culture. Most of them are normal in appearance and manner. Some are respected members of church organizations.
If his childhood sex behavior and attitudes to sex can help forecast whether a child will grow up to be a sexual deviate, no one has found a reliable formula for making the forecast. In time, with years of research, sexual deviates may be recognized in their childhood. But the ability to predict will be based on thousands of case histories, still ungathered, of adult sex offenders. Comparisons of their childhood will point up the factors most common to all and these factors can then he isolated and labeled as "potentially dangerous.”
The earliest fragments of such research indicate one fact of enormous interest to social scientists: Sex criminals appear to have a background of emotionally deprived childhood similar to that of ordinary criminals. In one study, case histories were gathered of one hundred and two sex offenders serving time in Sing Sing prison. One legislator, reading the final report, commented, "This isn’t just a sex-crime study. It might just as well he subtitled 'How NOT to Treat Young Children.’ ” Almost all the sex offenders studied had suffered neglect or brutality in their childhoods or had parents who were overindulgent, creating an insecure child as surely as rejection.
Some boys, hated and abused by their mothers, had grown up to become rapists and, in revenge, victimized only women old enough to be their mothers. One boy sadistically beaten by his father was consumed with hatred which found an outlet later in cruelty to his own children, including the ultimate cruelty of incest. A boy whose loving mother exerted autocratic control over her son’s behavior, dress, friends and opinions later gained sexual enjoyment from tying the hands and feet of woman, a method of showing his control over his mother’s sex.
Log Jam in Understanding
All sex criminals, according to the Sing Sing report, suffer from some type of mental or emotional disorder, though few are so pronounced as to meet the legal definition of mental illness. "While sex crime is often a manifestation of a mental or emotional disorder, there is no known mental disorder that presupposes the commission of sex crimes.”
Sex delinquency, like crime, is now believed to be evidence of immaturity and personality distortion, of social and sexual development arrested in childhood. Secondary factors, which may direct the criminal to express his maladjustment with society by committing sex offenses rather than burglaries, are suspected to be overintense parental taboos about sex, which equate sex urges with evil and filth, and early exposure to unfortunate sexual experience and sexual stimulation.
Actually most psychiatrists believe that every person considers sexual deviation at some time or another. The crucial point is control. The log jam in our understanding is our inability to say with any real certainty why most people can control their impulses and why a few others cannot.
California’s sex psychopaths contain a high proportion of chronic alcoholics or periodic heavy drinkers—thirty percent and some students of sex delinquency are anxious to undertake research to determine what percentage of sex crimes are committed by people whose normal restraint is weakened by alcohol. It is expected to be high.
Although most psychiatrists and criminologists have not drawn any firm conclusions from these sparse early findings and theories, they are generally agreed that the prevention of sexual deviation, like the prevention of juvenile delinquency, can be achieved only with universally enlightened parenthood.
Recognizing that this is a practical impossibility, most authorities pin their hopes on the treatment of sexual deviates—the earlier, the better. The best method of treatment appears to be psychiatric. Lobotomies, brain operations used to relieve very serious types of mental illness, have been attempted in the treatment of sex psychopaths in Europe and the United States but the results thus far are unimpressive. Some agonized young rapists have requested United States courts to permit them to be castrated; such operations, when carried out, have not been effective in relieving sexual desire.
Through psychiatric therapy, using means that are being improved upon as rapidly as surgery techniques, a sexual deviate may possibly acquire enough emotional understanding and maturity to be able to control his aggressive impulses. Clinics in Sweden report a cure percentage of forty percent. The Sing Sing experiment found that half the sex offenders there were incurable by any known method but most of these offenders were in the menace groupings. Nonviolent or nuisance sexual deviates respond more readily to treatment, on the whole. In both classifications, the chances of cure are believed to decrease with age.
Because of the obvious disadvantages of mixing sex offenders with other inmates of a mental or medical hospital, the need of a separate institute for their examination and treatment is recognized by many public bodies. Eight years ago a grand jury in Toronto said: "We regret that in all Canada there is not a suitable single institution where sex offenders are segregated to receive corrective mental treatment.” The situation remains unchanged to this moment.
This was the depressing background against which the Parents’ Action League was formed last April. Since it is a provincial organization, operating under an Ontario government charter, its initial request for a sexual deviates clinic is in the Metropolitan Toronto area.
The frail beginning of such a project already exists in Toronto. Or. Kenneth Gray, chairman of Parents’ Action League Scientific Advisory Committee, is director of the Forensic Clinic, a ten-bed branch of the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital, that receives all its patients from Toronto courts. Where the defendant in any criminal case is suspected by the magistrate or crown attorney to need psychiatric help, he is referred to Gray for a four-week battery of interviews and tests. The clinic is a welding of law and medicine (Gray is both a lawyer and a psychiatrist) and is the only one of its kind in Canada.
The chief disadvantages of the clinic are that it is too small and that its patients are chosen casually. In 1953, while Toronto police arrested more than twelve thousand persons, only eighty-three were referred to the clinic. They were sent by judges and lawyers, prompted by their awareness that the clinic had an empty bed and that the defendant undergoing trial appeared to be in emotional difficulties. "The trouble is, of course,” Gray says, "that so many people seriously disturbed can appear completely normal.” A clinic for examining all convicted sex offenders in Canada could possibly clear up the major difficulties that hamper Canada’s criminal sexual psychopath law. The present law, with its provision that a man convicted of a grave sex offense can be tried a second time, this time on a charge of being a criminal sexual psychopath, works better in theory than in practice. When a sex offender is first arrested for one of the six offenses defined as "grave” under the law, the crown prosecutor must make the decision to launch or not to launch the machinery of the sexual psychopath law. If he decides in favor of it, he must make application to the attorney-general to appoint a psychiatrist to examine the defendant. Since the testimony of two psychiatrists is required, the court appoints a second one. Both doctors make their examinations in the jail.
If the defendant is convicted in the trial that follows, the crown prosecutor then notifies the presiding judge that he wishes to charge the prisoner with being a criminal sexual psychopath. The psychiatrists, who have been waiting, testify. The defense may submit expert evidence, if it is available, to prove that the convicted man is not a psychopath and the decision is made by the judge, without jury.
The strain on the crown attorney is enormous. He must not only be fairly certain that the psychiatrists will uphold his layman’s guess that the prisoner qualifies as a psychopath, but he must also be fairly certain of a conviction on the original offense or else the time of the psychiatrists has been wasted.
The strain on the psychiatrist is equally heavy. His evidence may send a man to the penitentiary for life, which is always a difficult situation for a man of conscience. He gathers the material for this important opinion in a few brief interviews in a jail, an unscientific arrangement at best. "It’s like being asked to make a diagnosis of heart disease at a party,” comments Dr. Gray.
In addition, the legal definition is troublesome. The psychiatrist must testify that the defendant is a "person who by the course of misconduct in sexual matters has shown a lack of power to control his sexual impulses and who as a result is likely to attack or otherwise inflict injury, pain or other evil on any person.” Few psychiatrists like to testify positively that a man has "lack of power to control” without deep and prolonged clinical examination.
In a brief to the royal commission requesting separate institutions for sex offenders, Dr. T. A. Pincock, provincial psychiatrist in Manitoba, also recommended that the code read "a lack of control of his sexual impulses” rather than "a lack of power to control.”
The difference may appear to be hairsplitting, but it is important to a doctor who must testify a man’s freedom away. One state in the United States defines a sexual psychopath as a man with "utter lack of power to control his sexual impulses.” Only one psychopath has been convicted in that state in five years. Psychiatrists balk at the word "utter.”
Maclean’s, in endeavoring to determine how many criminal sexual psychopaths have been sentenced in Canada under the Criminal code as revised in 1948, sent ten telegrams to the ten attorneys-general in provincial capitals. The replies reflect the indolence of the law; Saskatchewan refused to "disclose any cases”; British Columbia and Quebec claimed to have no statistics; Alberta, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Newfoundland had sentenced none; Nova Scotia, one; Ontario, three.
The federal Commissioner of Penitentiaries, R. B. Gibson, listed the total number of criminal sexual psychopaths in Canadian prisons as nineteen. Some of the disparity in the two sets of figures is due to those convictions obtained under the old Criminal Code; Alberta, for instance, has two such convictions. The seven provinces that supplied figures to Maclean’s had sentenced only four criminal sexual psychopaths in seven years.
Assuming that future Canadian legislation might provide for the compulsory examination of all convicted sex offenders, the most useful statistics to forecast what might happen here are those of the New Jersey Diagnostic Center established six years ago. Some twenty-seven percent of all sex offenders studied there would fit Canada’s legal definition of criminal sexual psychopath. This works out to more than two hundred such convictions every year. In California, with a smaller population than Canada, the state is registering about two hundred and fifty such convictions every year. Basing the sorting again on the New Jersey statistics, which were reached by examining three hundred sex offenders, approximately fifty sex offenders in Canada would be found mentally ill each year and about thirty mentally deficient.
Granted that our laws are now under review and are likely to be changed, what can parents do now to protect their children. The traditional form of protection is to warn children against strangers. Some authorities believe that such approaches range from the absurd to dangerous. The California survey found that seventy-five percent of children molested in that state knew the sex offender who interfered with them. In many cases, the man was a relative or neighbor. Only one child in every four was molested by a stranger.
There is a sharp disagreement in this area between researchers and law enforcement. "For his own protection, a man would never molest a child who could later identify him,” scoffed an officer in the morality squad of the Toronto Police Department. "Absolute nonsense,” retorted Dr. Gray, of the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital. "I’ve never seen one who didn’t molest a child he knew. Persons motivated by complex neurotic disturbances don’t stop to think.”
Warning a child against strangers can be more than futile; there is also a possibility that the child will be shaken by the black unexplained fears thus conjured. "Don’t emphasize the word 'stranger,’ ” advises Dr. William Blatz, the noted child psychologist. "Emphasize your precautions, such as 'Don’t get into cars,’ 'Don’t accept money’ and so on. The attitude should be the same as that in warning children about the dangers of traffic. You don’t go into detail about the horrible things a car’s impact can do to the human body—you merely say 'Look both ways before you cross the street.’ ”
An aspect of a child being molested that interests many scientists is the characteristics of such a child. California established the Langley Porter Unit for the Study of Child Sex Victims. It resulted in some saddening information; of sixty-five child victims examined forty-four were termed "participating” victims because they either instigated or encouraged the aberration. This unit reported that many of the victims were in greater need of psychiatric help than the offenders. One little girl had been warned from an early age of the dreadful harm an adult could do her sexually; she became curious to find out for herself. Another had been encouraged to perform a strip tease for the amusement of her mother’s guests. Several others had frequently watched their parents in the act of sexual intercourse.
Some parents have asked what psychological first aid should be given if their child comes to them, puzzled and upset, to report that he or she has been molested.
"Treat it casually,” says Dr. Blatz. ” The man is a nuisance,’ you tell the child. Make certain the incident really happened and then call the police. You explain to the child that the police must remove the nuisance.”
"A child secure enough in his relations with his parents to tell them of such an incident is very unlikely to be harmed— unless the parents do something foolish, such as panic or blame and punish the child,” adds Dr. J. D. Atcheson, a psychiatrist who specializes in juvenile court cases. "Many children would never tell anyone about it; they'd be too afraid and ashamed.”
As they acquired knowledge and guidance of this kind, members of the Parents’ Action League continued to look for responsible men to assist them. A Toronto alderman, Allan Grossman, later elected to the Ontario Legislature, was the first politician to listen to the three-member league. He took the women into the office of Toronto’s chief of police, John Chisholm.
Chisholm was startled. "These are young women!” he said.
Grossman beamed. "They aren’t the typical bluestockings, are they?”
Committee of Stars
The best break was a telephone call to Dr. Kenneth Gray, the head of the Forensic Clinic. "I once made a report on this problem of the sexual deviate,” Gray told Mrs. Shvemar mildly. "It was shelved. We’ve all had reports shelved. You should look them over.”
She did. She found that the Canadian Penal Association in 1948 had set up a committee to report on the problem of the sex offender. The Kiwanis Club of Toronto had spent over a thousand dollars on a report in 1946. The Parent-Teacher Federation in British Columbia had submitted a report in 1950. These reports, and dozens more like them, had been tabled by various government bodies and forgotten. When Dr. John Griffin, a psychiatrist, was asked to address a meeting several weeks ago on the subject of sexual deviation, he simply read a report he had prepared six years ago "the last time,” he explained, "that Toronto was excited over a sex crime.” The report was fascinating and fresh as new; it still called for immediate action, as it had six years before.
Gray also gave the league names to call, colleagues whose work had touched on sexual deviation. Some were discouraged and bitter and refused to expose themselves to possible disappointment again; most of them sighed and agreed to help. Under Gray they formed a Scientific Advisory Committee of PAL which would guide all policies.
The committee is as starry as a television spectacular; in fact, most of its members are known to Canadian radio and television audiences. Dr. Gray is the chairman and the members are Dr. Blatz and Dr. Atcheson; Dr. Reva Gerstein, psychologist; Dr. Griffin, who is general director of the Canadian Mental Health Association; David Humphrey, chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee of the Canadian Bar Association, Ontario section; Mrs. Bertha Reynolds Caster, psychologist with the Toronto Board of Education; Dr. C. G. Stogdill, chief of Child Adjustment Service, Board of Education; Dr. Carl Williams and Dr. C. R. Myers, professors of psychology, University of Toronto.
The committee drafted the objectives of PAL: To encourage research into the causes, treatment and prevention of sexual deviation; to establish clinics for the treatment of sexual deviates where there appears to be real hope of cure; to further the increase of knowledge about sexual deviation. With delicate tact, the committee suggested that Mrs. Shvemar, Mrs. Hahn and Mrs. Dorfman leave all statements of policy to the committee. PAL applied for, and was granted, a provincial charter; the next move was to get endorsements of PAL’s aims from every major organization in the country.
The women went back to their telephones, joined by another earnest mother, Isobel Mills, a former librarian now married to an insurance executive. Within eight weeks of Mrs. Shvemar’s original suggestion, "Effie, let’s do something about this,” PAL had been endorsed by fifty church, service, labor and other organizations and approved by Ontario’s Attorney-General, Toronto’s police chief and the Minister of Health.
For the four housewives, telephones became the centre of existence. They set up meetings with representatives of home and school organizations, church and veteran groups and service clubs. They arranged interviews with politicians, labor leaders, teachers, ministers, priests and rabbis. They received phone calls offering to help with telephoning or typing, other calls to donate supplies such as stationery, and other calls offering money. (The league couldn’t accept donations until its charter was approved.) The housewives had long, involved discussions with women whose children had been molested by sexual deviates and even longer, more involved discussions with mothers who were merely afraid their children might be victims. They were patient with cranks.
When the husbands wanted to get in touch with their wives, the telephone was always busy. As a matter of routine, husbands telephoned the neighbors instead and had the message relayed. A lunch of canned beans, only slightly warm and hastily dumped on a plate on the kitchen table, became known as a ‘‘PAL lunch.” One six-year-old daughter explained casually to her playmates that "Mommy is busy with her psychopaths again.” Dignified conversations with distinguished executives crumpled when a shrill cry of "Mommy, I hurt my knee!” or "Iwannacookie!” was heard in the background. Dust gathered in the corners.
"We couldn’t manage,” vivacious Mrs. Hahn once commented diplomatically, in the hearing of the husbands, "without our husbands. We are so lucky to have the most understanding husbands in the world.”
PAL’s executive now feels its roll call of fifty endorsements is formidable enough to impress a government, and plans to submit the list of recommendations to Premier Leslie Frost. Still new and groping, the league can only hope that the same recommendations will find their way into the royal commission report, to other provincial governments and to Ottawa. The means is still not entirely clear, but PAL is counting on its basic recipe: Take a woman and a telephone and stir ... ★