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The following statement was forwarded to the Department, taken from the tabulated records of the Registrar-General, relating to the death on June 1 of the daughter of a glass-packer residing in Kensal Town:-
“This is the second death in my practice within a week, the cause of which was produced from pressure at a Board School”
(Signed) W.H. BORHAM
Dr. Borham was at once communicated with as to the names of the children referred to, and inquiries were made of parents and teachers with the following results:-
GEORGE LEACH, aged nine, admitted to boy’s department from the infant school July 1883, placed in First Standard, but rapidly promoted to the Second, in which at the time of his death he was one of the most promising candidates. Dr. Borham states that he was physically delicate, with a weak spine, but remarkably intelligent and quick at learning. About 14 days before his death he complained of abdominal pains, was very excitable, with headache, flushed face, &c., and fell off considerably in flesh; he was always talking about the examinations, and when asleep muttered incoherent sentences about his lessons. This caused head symptoms of such gravity as to produce inflammation and congestion of the brain. The mother of the boy states that he never had home lessons to do, but was naturally studious, and even worked during his illness for a prize to be shortly given. The master of the school most positively denied that the boy was subject to the least pressure, but asserts that, on the contrary, owing both to his infirmity and also to his industry and progress, he was treated with exceptional leniency; giving as an instance that he had insisted on his mother keeping the boy at home for two weeks before the Whitsun holidays, in order to insure his having three weeks rest. It appears that the boy had a bad fall about a year previously, and injured his head, - a circumstance which, in the mother’s opinion, might have had something to do with his illness.
EMILY FROST Aged 11, in Standard IV. Dr. Borham states that this case was similar to the preceding. The girl was of better physical stamina, but of less intelligence, though above the par in learning and in anxiety to excel. She was, in his opinion, working too hard for her health, considering her surroundings at home. He maintains that she died of brain fever. The mother states that her daughter was of good mental capacity, and, though of a very nervous and excitable temperament, was so studios that books had to be forced out of her hands, and papers removed from her sight. Though her daughter had no home lessons to do, she was always engaged in study, for which there was no occasion. This, she believed, had so acted on her child’s brain as to cause death. She added, however, that she did not believe that school work had anything to do with it. The statement of the teacher is, however, opposed to this view. She declared that the girl, though bright, was one of the most backward in her class, and much fonder of play than work; so far from her not having home lessons, they were always set, but she never did them, nor were they insisted on. It further appears that the child’s death was generally ascribed to her “having lumps in the throat” and the assumption was that she died of diphtheria. Another child of the family died within a fortnight, and after her death the bedding was disinfected. The managers of the school express themselves satisfied that no undue pressure was put upon the girl; and there is a strong presumption that both children dies of some form of malignant typhus.