A reformatory was an institution for criminal children, later known as juvenile offenders. The lines between neglected and criminal children were often blurred. The term was used largely from the 1870s through to the 1970s and comes from the notion that a young person committed to a secure institution would receive reformative treatment. For example, a history of child welfare prepared for WA's 150th anniversary of European settlement declared that it was 'considered that life in an Industrial School, under proper Christian influence, would act as a reforming influence on children and it seems to have been believed that children who did offend did so because they had not had the benefit of such influences.'
Up until the 1950s, the term reformatory was also used in relation to 'industrial schools'.
Sources used to compile this entry: Department for Community Welfare, History of the Department 1829-1979, 1979; Western Australia. Child Welfare Department, Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department, Child Welfare Department, Perth [W.A.], 1928-1972. 1941..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 26 October 2011, Last modified: 27 February 2015