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The Doctrine of "in Loco Parentis"

When minor children are entrusted by parents to a school, the parents delegate to the school certain responsibilities for their children, and the school has certain liabilities. In effect, the school and the teachers take some of the responsibility and some of the authority of the parents. The exact extent and nature of this responsibility and power vary from one society to another and from one school system to another. This is spelled out to some extent in the law, but much of it is determined by local custom and practice. There is, of course, a relation between the age of the child on the one hand and the teacher's responsibility and liability for it on the other. The young child must obey the teacher, and the teacher may use the methods expected and tolerated in the community to control the child's behaviour. Furthermore, the child's physical safety is entrusted to the school and to the teacher, who thus become legally liable for the child's safety, insofar as negligence can be proved against them. In the matter of corporal or physical punishment, local attitudes establish a wide range of expected and permissible behaviour on the part of the teacher. In most parts of the world, young children may be punished by a limited infliction of physical pain at the hands of the teacher or school principal, using a wooden ruler or a whip of one kind or another. But there are some systems and cities that explicitly bar a teacher from using corporal punishment. This seems most common in large cities; the teacher in a rural or small-city school is more apt to be expected to use physical measures for controlling pupil behaviour. As students become older, their behaviour is less apt to be controlled by physical measures, and they are more likely to be suspended from classes or expelled from school. This is the common last resort in the upper years of the secondary school and in the university. Another facet of the doctrine of in loco parentis is seen in the relation between parents and teachers with respect to the promotion of pupils and to their counselling or guidance. Parent and teacher may be in conflict about the best procedures to use with a pupil. Shall this pupil be promoted from a fifth to a sixth year class or be "kept back" to repeat the year's work? This decision is generally seen as the responsibility of the school, though the parents may be brought in for consultation. If the parents object to the school's decision, what rights and powers do they have? May they see the school's records on their child? May they examine the pupil's examination papers or other school work? The answers to these questions are more fixed in some countries than in others, but in general, the school's authority is supported in these matters. A more difficult problem is presented by a student, generally an adolescent, who is having serious problems with his school performance or with his school behaviour. He is sent to the school counsellor, who finds him in need of therapeutic counselling and proceeds to counsel him. Must the counsellor secure prior consent from the parents? Must the counsellor disclose to the parents what he learns about or from the student in confidence? Perhaps the counsellor concludes that a part of the student's difficulty is caused by his parents. Must the counsellor tell this to the parents? Is the counsellor intruding on the privacy of the parents by asking the student about his relations with them or by listening if the student volunteers such information? This is terra incognita for the teaching profession, and has become something of an issue in the places where personal counselling is regarded as part of the school's responsibility. At the level of higher education, the doctrine of in loco parentis does not present as much of a problem for the teacher, since the student, even though he may be legally a minor, is presumed to be a more responsible person. But the university may have a problem in relation to the local police or city government. May university property--including classrooms in which teachers are trying to teach--be regarded as private property, with police and other outside persons barred unless they are explicitly asked for their help? The question (and others like it) has no clear and unequivocal answer.


Applied Psychology

The use of the findings and methods of scientific psychology in solving practical problems of human and animal behaviour and experience. A more precise definition is impossible because the activities of applied psychology range from laboratory experimentation through field studies of specific utility to direct services to troubled persons. The same intellectual streams whose confluence produced psychology as an independent discipline in the latter part of the 19th century led to the later development of an applied psychology. Francis Galton's publication in 1883 of Inquiries Into Human Faculty foreshadowed the measurement of individual psychological differences. In 1896 Lightner Witmer established at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, a clinic that was a forerunner of clinical psychology. Intelligence testing began with the work of Alfred Binet and Théodore Simon in the Paris schools. Group testing, legal problems, industrial efficiency, motivation, and delinquency were among other early areas of application. At the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, a division of applied psychology was established as a teaching and research department in 1915. The Journal of Applied Psychology appeared in 1917 along with the first applied-psychology text, by H.L. Hollingsworth and A.T. Poffenberger. World Wars I and II fostered work on vocational testing, teaching methods, evaluation of attitudes and morale, performance under stress, propaganda and psychological warfare, rehabilitation, and counseling. After World War II many of the trends in applied psychology were accentuated by the demands of the space age. Educational psychologists applied themselves to the task of early identification and discovery of talented persons, since it was recognized that trained intelligence is an important national resource. Such activities were linked with the work of counseling psychologists, who sought to help persons clarify and attain their educational, vocational, and personal goals. Concern for the optimum utilization of human resources also increased the importance of industrial and personnel psychology in business and industrial organizations. The aviation industry and the various space agencies and organizations were important in the rapid development of the field of engineering psychology; as machines and engineering systems grew in complexity, it was necessary to study man-machine relationships. In response to society's concern for treatment of the mentally ill and for preventive measures against mental illness, clinical psychology showed the greatest absolute growth rate within psychology. Psychologists studied the application of automation, and in the developing countries they helped with the problems of rapid industrialization and manpower planning. Regardless of the applied psychologist's professional focus, his job description is likely to overlap with those of other areas. The applied psychologist may or may not engage in original research and/or teach. In addition to drawing on experimental findings gleaned from psychological research, the applied psychologist utilizes information from many disciplines. The scope of the field is continually broadening as new types of problems (e.g., technological) arise. Other branches of applied psychology include consumer, school, and community psychology. Prevention and treatment of emotional problems in naturalistic settings (i.e., the community) have received a great deal of attention, as have medically related questions (e.g., sports psychology and the psychology of chronic illness). Psychometrics, or the measurement and evaluation of psychological variables such as personality, aptitude, or performance, is an integral part of applied-psychology fields. For example, the clinical psychologist may be interested in measuring the traits of aggressiveness or obsessiveness; the counseling psychologist, areas of career interest or aptitude; the industrial psychologist, work effectiveness under certain conditions of lighting or office design; or the community psychologist, psychological effects of living near a nuclear power plant or radioactive waste disposal site.

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