There is probably no circumstance in connection with the life of the average sexual criminal more impressive than the absolute ignorance, among both men and women, of the elemental conditions of both social and individual life. In cases of betrayal, infidelity, divorce, abortion, illegitimate motherhood, and the various other types of sexual perversity, particularly among the more juvenile offenders, it will be found, I think, that most if not all of them would have been avoided if the subjects had been instructed in even the most rudimentary principles of right living. If boys, reaching out toward manhood, were kept in constant touch and companionship with their fathers, and growing girls with their mothers, and neither permitted to find out for themselves, in an irregular and haphazard manner, those things with which they must ultimately become, unfortunately, acquainted, the ranks of social offenders, in our targe cities, would be speedily depleted and social purity enhanced.
To insure a clean and healthy boyhood, the physical, rather than the sociological, or even the moral, side of the question should be dwelt upon. If the pitiable extent of the impairment of mental and bodily faculties, due to illicit sexual indulgence, were brought more largely within the mental horizon of youth, instead of being kept in the background, as it is, I am radically convinced that the evil would be greatly lessened. It at least promises better than the present system of chasing immoral women from pillar to post, and endeavoring to restrain, by legal enactments, a social habit which is about as amenable to restraint as are the tides of the ocean. Physical distress, disease, broken homes, blighted lives, are far more compelling object-lessons than are any mere ideals of social and domestic purity; and to these the physician, whose business it is, should set his face with a clear mental and moral vision.
The so-called "white slave" traffic is a myth. No woman need remain an hour in a house of prostitution, after she has made up her mind to quit it; and of the 300,000 prostitutes in the United States, not five per cent., it is safe to say, are in the business by force of circumstances or against their wills.
Outside the realm of pathology there is absolute free-will for every man and woman. I am aware that Lombroso advances the doctrine that the born criminal can be, for the greater part, nothing else; but the fact that he frequently does become something else, sufficiently disposes of the statement When a woman sells her body, she does it voluntarily; and when a man sells his soul he does it equally voluntarily. There is no question of compulsion, so long as the normal will power remains intact; but that men and women continue to do these things, in the face of the moral and physical suffering both acts obviously entail, is presumptive proof that in a vast majority of cases the moral will power is not intact and that the criminal is a mentally diseased person. So that, while society today, like the Mosaic Code, would stone the adulteress and fornicator, let us be exceedingly careful about casting the first stone.