Among remedies for preventable disease and preventable poverty, the following was urged at a national conference for the betterment of social conditions: "We have been too prudish. Because we have been unwilling to teach school children the evils of violating sex hygiene, we have been unsuccessful in combating evils justly attributable to ignorance on the part of girls as to the duties and dangers of motherhood." This point of view is shared by so many men and women that a national body was organized in 1905 to promote the teaching of sex hygiene,—the Society for Sanitary and Moral Prophylaxis. This society has its headquarters in New York, and distributes at cost lectures and essays. The second of its educational pamphlets is addressed to teachers, and is entitled "Instruction in the Physiology and Hygiene of Sex." The introduction asks eleven questions of the teachers as follows:
1. Do you wish a pamphlet on sex subjects to hand to your pupils? Why?
2. Do you wish separate pamphlets for boys and girls?
3. For what age limits and social conditions do you wish them?
4. What topics do you wish the pamphlets for boys to "handle"?
5. What topic do you wish the pamphlet for girls to "handle"?
6. If you think one pamphlet sufficient for both sexes, what should it consider?
7. How far do you go in teaching sexual hygiene or reproduction? By what method?
8. What special difficulties do you find in teaching it?
9. What special need of teaching it have you found?
10. What special benefits (or otherwise) have you noticed from teaching it?
11. What criticisms (favorable or otherwise) do you encounter?
The difficulty of introducing formal instruction in sex hygiene, even in the upper grades of public and private schools, is hinted at in the pamphlet. The purpose of the publishing society as given in its constitution is "to eliminate the spread of diseases which have their origin in the social evil." Although sex hygiene does not begin with sex immorality, almost every text-book on sex hygiene, and almost every pamphlet urging class instruction in sex hygiene, begins with sex immorality. Yet only the exceptional school child is in danger of violating sex morals, while every school child needs instruction in sex hygiene.
Instruction in sex hygiene, whether at school or at home, should deal with sex normality, sex health, sex temperance. Instruction in sex immorality is objectionable, not merely because it offends prudists, not because it is difficult, but because it can be shown by experience to be less efficacious than training in sex health.
To expect fear to prompt sex hygiene is to make a mistake that has retarded the development of sound measures in the treatment of offenders against criminal law. For centuries man failed in attempts to fit the punishment to the crime. To deter men from committing crime by holding up a threat of prolonged and dreadful punishment has been found futile. Individuals take the risk because they think they will escape detection. It is an axiom of criminal procedure that a would-be offender is deterred by the certainty, not by the severity, of punishment. The modern theory of probation is, that children and adults may be best led away from evil practices by crowding out old influences with newer and stronger interests. Occupations that are wholesome are made to rival diversions or occupations that are harmful and criminal.
Object Lessons For Instruction In Sex Health Note The Uncomfortable, Unhealthy Overdressing
Abnormal conditions of mind and body in regard to sex can almost always be traced to general physical ill health or to an unhealthy moral environment. Cure and prevention require two kinds of treatment within reach of parents and teachers: (1) build up the child's physical condition; and (2) give him other interests. Proper physical care, and work adjusted to body and mind, may be relied upon to do infinitely more to promote sex hygiene than instruction, either at home or at school, in immoral sex diseases. That sex morality is weak and untrustworthy which is based upon fear of sex diseases. Like alcoholism and nicotinism, the saddest results of sex diseases are social and economic. The strongest reasons against such diseases are economic and social, not physiological.
The Study Of Infant Health Is Conducive To Pure-Mindedness Note The Simple, Comfortable, Hygienic Dress