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Homework answers / question archive / Chapter 3: Socialization On a cold winter day in 1938, a social worker walked quickly to the door of a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse

Chapter 3: Socialization On a cold winter day in 1938, a social worker walked quickly to the door of a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse

Sociology

Chapter 3: Socialization

On a cold winter day in 1938, a social worker walked quickly to the door of a rural Pennsylvania farmhouse. Sent to investigate a case of possible child abuse, the social worker entered the room and soon discovered a five-year-old girl hidden in a second-floor storage room. The child, whose name was Anna, was wedged into an old chair with her arms tied securely above her head so that she couldn’t move. She was wearing filthy clothes, and her arms and legs were as thin as matchsticks (K. Davis, 1940).

Anna’s situation can only be described as tragic. She was born in 1932 to an unmarried and mentally impaired woman of twenty-six who lived with her strict father. Angry about his daughter’s “illegitimate” motherhood, the grandfather did not even want the child in his house, so for the first six months of her life, Anna was passed among several welfare agencies. But her mother could not afford to pay for her care, and Anna returned to the hostile environment of her grandfather.

To lessen the grandfather’s anger, Anna’s mother kept the child in a storage room and gave her just enough milk to keep her alive. There she stayed – day after day, month after month, with almost no human contact – for five long years.

Learning about Anna’s rescue, the sociologist Kingsley Davis immediately went to see the child. He found her with local officials at a county home. Davis was stunned by the emaciated girl, who could not laugh, speak, or even smile. Anna was completely unresponsive, as if alone in an empty world.

 

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