Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/236

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reform, the root of the matter lies with the children. By the circulation of healthful books and papers, much is done to counteract the baleful influence of that vile printed matter which systematically inundates our public schools. Kindly, sympathetic talks are given, rarely bearing directly on these matters, but stimulating the indifferent to take advantage of all opportunities of self-improvement, and all making for the uplifting of a sin-burdened world. Care is taken, as these children grow older, to secure for them honest positions, to teach the unsuspecting to avoid those glittering pitfalls where the largeness of the salary offered is compensation in part only for service rendered—in reality is a premium upon loss of character and self-respect; to provide temporary homes for young women-immigrants landing helpless in strange cities, until suitable positions can be obtained for them; and, most important of all, care is taken to impregnate the working-girl element with the sense of responsibility devolving upon every woman as a person of influence, urging the dissemination of this thought throughout all their home work in some such ways as these. By urging the discipline of self-reliance and self-restraint, and the highest standard of purity, delicacy, and strength, equally on brothers and sisters; by discouraging the witnessing of certain popular but none the less indecent plays; by watching carefully over the reading of the younger members of the family, discountenancing the perusal of our so-called town papers by the boys as well as the girls (for no one can touch pitch and remain undefiled); by setting the example of avoiding the reading of details of popular divorce scandals; especially by guarding against that ubiquitous erotic literature which, masquerading in the attractive, fantastic garb of beautiful illustrations, claiming the prestige of realistic or classic origin, when divested of all its false trappings is, in all its hideousness, but a powerful excitant, stimulating the prurient imagination of the inexperienced, thereby starting many a child on the treacherous path down which it is so pitifully easy for the untaught to slip, and whose starting-point it is all but impossible to regain. This form of reading-matter is the most successful of all the recruiting officers from the vast army of the shameless.

To carry this work on helpfully and practically, to gain a positive algebraic sum from these many efforts, must not our young women "know of the existence" of fallen men and women? Could they increase their power, here or in their home-influence, by "seeming to be ignorant of the existence of such people"?

Ah! these young women are to be the mothers of our race: shall we not arm them with the knowledge wherewith to breast the future? Will not this knowledge in the average intelligent young woman, combined with the unsullied heart which is her