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suspicion. If a boy who has previously been cheerful, pleasant, dutiful,
and gentle, suddenly becomes morose, cross, peevish, irritable, and
disobedient, be sure that some foul influence is at work with him. When
a girl, naturally joyous, happy, confiding, and amiable, becomes
unaccountably gloomy, sad, fretful, dissatisfied, and unconfiding, be
certain that a blight of no insignificant character is resting upon
her. Make a careful study of the habits of such children; and if there
is no sudden illness to account for the change in their character, it
need not require long deliberation to arrive at the true cause, for
it will rarely be found to be anything other than solitary indulgence.
5. _Lassitude_ is as unnatural for a child as for a young kitten. A
healthy child will be active, playful, full of life and animal spirits.
If a young child manifests indisposition to activity, a dislike for
play, lifelessness and languor, suspect his habits, if there is no other
reasonable cause to which to attribute his unnatural want of childish
6. In connection with the preceding symptom will generally be found,
instead of that natural brilliance of expression in the eyes and
countenance, an unnatural dullness and vacantness altogether foreign
to childhood. This is a just ground for suspicion.
7. _Sleeplessness_ is another symptom of significance. Sound sleep is
natural for childhood; and if sleeplessness be not occasioned by
dietetic errors, as eating indigestible food, eating between meals,
or eating late suppers, it may justly be a cause for suspicion of evil
8. _Failure of mental capacity_ without apparent cause should occasion
suspicion of evil practices. When a child who has previously learned
readily, mastered his lessons easily, and possessed a retentive memory,
shows a manifest decline in these directions, fails to get his lessons,
becomes stupid, forgetful, and inattentive, he has probably become the
victim of a terrible vice, and is on the road to speedy mental as well
as physical ruin. Watch him.
9. _Fickleness_ is another evidence of the working of some
deteriorating influence, for only a weak mind is fickle.
10. _Untrustworthiness_ appearing in a child should attract attention
to his habits. If he has suddenly become heedless, listless, and
forgetful, so that he cannot be depended upon, though previously not
so, lay the blame upon solitary indulgence. This vice has a wonderful
influence in developing untruthfulness. A child previously honest,
under its baneful influence will soon become an inveterate liar.
11. _Love of solitude_ is a very suspicious sign. Children are naturally
sociable, almost without exception. They have a natural dread of being
alone. When a child habitually seeks seclusion without a sufficient
cause, there are good grounds for suspecting him of sinful habits. The
barn, the garret, the water-closet, and sometimes secluded places in
the woods, are the favorite resorts of masturbators. They should be
carefully followed and watched, unobserved.
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