PERVERSION FROM CORRUPT ASSOCIATION AND TEACHING.
There is no more important care than that of the choice of the proper nurses, attendants, and associ ates for children, as they will often receive from them more educational influence than from those who are their rightful educators.
I think we may safely assert that for one instance of perversion from mere heredity, or accidental awakening of the aphrodisiac sense, three to five arise from education through other children or adults.
A little girl residing in Brooklyn, from the age of six to nine years, was at intervals touched and tickled by a trusted man-servant, who frequently carried her in his arms to and from school, or would bring her in the early evening from a neighbor's house where she was permitted to go and play. His injunctions to secrecy, by exciting her fears, kept her from disclosing the wrong all that time. Another child of ten was for. several years secretly tampered with by a boy playmate, who later did her the greatest wrong. At nineteen she was married to a good husband, but was through life a nympho maniac. The disease was hidden by marriage, but was never cured, as such cases seldom or never are by marriage. Nurses and attendants, in order to quiet children (and boys and girls are in equal dan ger) have irritated the sexual organs, by a slight tickling, its consequences being only evil, and per haps incalculably serious. In several instances, under my own observation, of results after some such awakening of sensation, the unsuspecting child has sought to perpetuate and increase it by various measures. Hastened and premature puberty, great nervous excitability, muscular weakness, a peculiar obstinacy or inertia of the forces of volition, chorea, or Saint Vitus's dance, and epileptic seizures, have been directly traceable to the sexual irritation.
The following touching story, told me by a personal friend, the trusted physician of the family where the circumstances occurred, will illustrate the necessity of close parental care. The parents were conscien tious people, having more than usually advanced views of the importance of healthful habits for their children, and their two sons of eight and five years had rarely been sick for a day. Both were well developed, happy children, quite the pride of their father and mother. The elder child grew nervous and excitable, his appetite and digestion uncertain and fitful, becoming listless and disinclined to out door, or in fact any kind of active play, moody, and often irascible towards his little brother, of whom be had always been very fond. The mother, in giving these details, asked for a prescription, saying " If the child is not better soon we will bring him to you." Some time elapsed, when a second letter gave the fol lowing statement. " G — was taken so ill that his father took charge of him at night, having tried your prescription, and general directions, but without good result. About two months ago his father
retired with him one night unusually early, and after a time, observing some movements which led him to turn quickly towards him as he was yet awake, he found him, to his surprise, rubbing the skin about the urethral opening, which he checked at once, and, upon questioning him as to how he learned this habit, found him obstinately reticent. We tried separately, for two or three days, to learn the source of the mischief, but lie only said he did not like to tell, and it was not until very decided threatening of punishment on the part of his father, that he acknowl edged that the teacher who taught our school last winter, and was one of our family, had been the cause of all the trouble. He was fond of our little boy and several times slept with the children, by his own request, when the weather was very cold, and you will imagine our surprise and distress at this discovery when we had always carefully guarded them. His father and myself have been giving him all the teaching and care we could, following your general instructions, and he has decidedly improved. About a week since we thought he had so far recovered that he could sleep again with his brother, and on visiting their bedroom I found G— with both wrists tied to the bedpost nearest him, with two handker chiefs arranged with a slipping-knot, into which his wrists had been fastened above his head. Thinking in some way the younger boy had intended to play a trick upon the elder, I gently unloosed them and placed them under the clothes. In the morning I called the supposed mischief-maker to account, when he denied all knowledge of the matter. In speaking with G about it, he said, " I did it, mamma. You know I want to do right, but sometimes those naughty feelings come so strong, even when I am asleep, that I do wrong before I know it. I knew how to make a slip-knot, and I tied my hands myself, for I am determined not to do the wrong when I know it." I knew he had always been conscientious, so that we have rarely had to correct him, and that he was much moved when we explained to him the wrong he had done; but we were quite surprised at such decided effort at self-control on his part.
A touching lesson is told in this simple story, for this lad had a more than usually good heredity, not only mentally and physically, but of more than ordinary moral sense; and if a few days of vicious association and teaching make such impression, what can we do for those who are less favored? Nothing can be done but to watch and check the earliest be ginning of this and all kindred evils in our children, and, as far as lies in our power, aid others in doing the same.