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Causes which Lead Girls Astray.--The predisposing causes of sexual
vices have already been dwelt upon so fully in this volume that we shall
devote little space to the subject here. We may, however, mention a
few of the causes which seem to be most active in leading to the
formation of evil habits among girls.
Vicious Companions.--Girls are remarkably susceptible to influence by
those of their own age. A vicious girl who makes herself agreeable to
those with whom she associates can exert more influence over many of
her companions than can any number of older persons. Even a mother
rarely has that influence over her daughter that is maintained by the
girl whom she holds as her bosom friend. The close friendships which
are often formed between girls of the same age are often highly
detrimental in character. Each makes a confidant of the other, and thus
becomes estranged from the only one competent to give counsel and advice,
and the one who of all others is worthy of a young girl's
From these unfortunate alliances often arise most deplorable evils.
Vicious companions not infrequently sow the seeds of evil habits far
and wide, contaminating all who come within their influence.
Whom to Avoid.--A girl will always do well to avoid a companion who
is vain, idle, silly, or frivolous. Girls who have these evil
characteristics are very likely to have others also which are worse.
A girl who is rude in her manners, careless in her habits, irreverent
and disobedient to parents and teachers, is always an unsafe companion.
No matter how pretty, witty, stylish, or aristocratic she may be, she
should be shunned. Her influence will be withering, debasing, wherever
felt. A girl may be gay and thoughtless without being vicious; but the
chances are ten to one that she will become sinful unless she changes
Sentimental Books.--The majority of girls love to read, but,
unfortunately, the kind of literature of which they are chiefly fond
is not of a character which will elevate, refine, or in any way benefit
them. Story books, romances, love tales, and religious novels
constitute the chief part of the reading matter which American young
ladies greedily devour. We have known young ladies still in their teens
who had read whole libraries of the most exciting novels.
The taste for novel-reading is like that for liquor or opium. It is
never satiated. It grows with gratification. A confirmed novel-reader
is almost as difficult to reform as a confirmed inebriate or opium-eater.
The influence upon the mind is most damaging and pernicious. It not
only destroys the love for solid, useful reading, but excites the
emotions, and in many cases keeps the passions in a perfect fever of
excitement. The confessions of young women who were to all appearance
the most circumspect in every particular, and whom no one mistrusted
to be capable of vile thoughts, have convinced us that this evil is
more prevalent than many, even of those who are quite well informed,
would be willing to admit.
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