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I am not trying to minimize the danger of masturbation, for, if
indulged in from an early age and to great excess, the results _may_
be disastrous. But, even if I were to minimize the evil consequences,
that would be less of a sin than to exaggerate them the way it has
been done for so many years, by so many people in the profession and
out of it. The evil results of exaggerating the influence of
masturbation have been so great in the past that, if now the pendulum
were to swing to the other extreme, I am sure it would not be a bad
thing at all.
To deal with the subject of the _treatment_ of masturbation belongs to
a medical treatise. But, a few remarks on how to prevent children from
acquiring the habit of masturbation will not be out of place.
=Prevention of the Habit of Masturbation.= The keynote of preventing
the habit is, carefully to watch the child from its earliest infancy.
We know that not infrequently stupid or vicious nursemaids,
wet-nurses, and even governesses ignorantly or deliberately induce the
habit in children under their charge. This, of course, must be
prevented. Even children of the age of nine, ten, eleven years should
not be left alone, but always be under supervision. Too close
friendship between boys or girls, particularly of different ages,
should be looked upon with suspicion.
A number of girls never should sleep in the same room without
supervision by an older person.
The sleeping together of two in the same bed, whether it be two
children or a grown person and a child, should not be permitted under
any circumstances. I admit of no exceptions to this demand. It makes
no difference whether the other person is a mother, a father, a
brother or a sister. Leaving out of the question any _deliberate_
element, the thing is dangerous; for, very often, unintentionally,
unwittingly, masturbation is initiated by this intimate contact.
The child--boy or girl--should sleep alone, on a rather hard mattress.
The covering should be light. A coverlet may be put over the feet. The
child always should sleep with the arms out upon the cover or blanket,
never _under_ the same. If this is done from childhood on, it is very
easy to get used to this way of sleeping, and many a case of
masturbation will thus be obviated. The child should not be permitted
to loll in bed: it must be taught to get up as soon as it awakes in
the morning. The general bringing-up must be of a strengthening,
hardening character; and this applies both to the body and the will.
When the children reach the age of nine, ten, eleven, twelve or
thirteen years (we must use discrimination and judgment, for, some
children of nine are as developed as are others of thirteen), we must
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