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repugnant to all we associate with the term childhood, but is also
fraught with danger to dawning manhood. On the judicious treatment of
a case such as has been sketched, it probably depends whether the
dangerous propensity shall be so kept in check as to preserve the boy's
health and innocence, or whether one more shattered constitution and
wounded conscience shall be added to the victims of sexual precocity
and careless training. It ought not to be forgotten that in such cases
a quasi-sexual power often accompanies these premature sexual
inclinations. Few, perhaps, except medical men, know how early in life
a mere infant may experience erections. Frequently it may be noticed
that a little child, on being taken out of bed in the morning, cannot
make water at once. It would be well if it were recognized by parents
and nurses that this often depends upon a more or less complete
We have been not more disgusted than shocked to see parents, whose
intelligence ought to teach them better, not only winking at, but
actually encouraging, these premature manifestations of passion in
their children. They may yet learn, by bitter experience, the folly
of their course, unless they make the discovery in time to avert the
calamitous results which threaten the future of their children, by
careful reformatory training.
Inherited Passion.--It is important to inquire the cause of this
precocity. Said a father of our acquaintance, when remonstrated with
for encouraging his infant son in a ridiculous flirtation, "I did just
so when I was of his age." In this case the cause was evident. The child
was only acting out the disposition bequeathed him by his parent. How
often do the secret follies of parents stand out in bold relief in their
children. Such a legacy is nothing to be proud of.
We again quote from Dr. Acton some observations on the causes of this
disorder,--for a grave disorder it is,--as follows:--
"I should specify _hereditary_ predisposition as by no means the least
common.... I believe that, as in body and mind, so also in the passions,
the sins of the father are frequently visited on the children. No man
or woman, I am sure, can have habitually indulged the sexual passions ...
without, at least, running the risk of finding that a disposition to
follow a similar career has been inherited by the offspring. It is in
this way only that we can explain the early and apparently almost
irresistible propensity in generation after generation indulging
similar habits and feelings."
Various Causes of Sexual Precocity.--Another very powerful
predisposing cause of sexual precocity will be alluded to under the
head of "Marital Excesses." The irritation caused by worms in the rectum,
by local irritation or uncleanliness, or by irritation of the bladder,
are exciting causes which are not infrequent. The latter cause is
indicated by another symptom, the frequent wetting of the bed at night.
Such a symptom doubly demands immediate attention.
The juvenile parties so common now-a-days, at which little ones of both
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