16 Feb 2014

The Mazengarb Report

From Spectrum, 12:05 pm on 16 February 2014

Mazengarb Report Bodgies and Widgies Courtesy A H Manning
The bodgie: a study in abnormal psychology by A.H. Manning. A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1958.

In 1954, moral panic swept the country following revelations about sexual activity amongst teenagers in the Hutt Valley. The government, responded by appointing Queen’s Counsel Oswald Mazengarb to chair a Special Committee on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents. Several factors fed into the perceived mood of the country, or at least the perceptions of clergy, politicians and others concerned with ‘moral values’. Sexually explicit literature, films and popular music were frowned upon. Bodgies and widgies who congregated in milk-bars were seen as driving down teenage moral standards, not to mention leather-clad motor bike gangs.

In under two months Mazengarb reported back and blamed promiscuity ‘on the absence from home of working mothers, the availability of contraceptives and young women who entice men into having sex.'

Copies of the Mazengarb Report were sent to almost 300,000 families. It noted that 'the new pattern of juvenile immorality is uncertain in origin, insidious in growth and has developed over a wide field.’

The programme was produced by Jerome Cvitanovitch and first broadcast in August 1991.