Story type: Essay
You have perhaps read that Mrs. Isabelle Bailey, of Palmyra, N.J., was cruelly tortured by three little girls.
The unfortunate woman was eighty-five years old, paralyzed, and confined to her bed.
The three children, two of them eight and one eleven years old, tormented the poor woman in a brutal manner, of which details shall not be published here.
The helpless woman ultimately died, and the children were charged with murder. —-
This horrible story is mentioned in the hope of concentrating the minds of mothers and fathers on the fact that children are naturally more cruel, more vicious, than grown people.
The children mentioned in this case were, perhaps, abnormal and unusual monstrosities. But they serve to illustrate the fact that infancy and childhood duplicate, in the individual, the primitive animal life on earth.
Many children are brutally punished and ruined for life because ignorant parents imagine that childhood is naturally pure and innocent and good, and that a child which misbehaves must be abnormally wicked.
If parents knew more about the physical and mental development of their children, they would be better fitted to have charge of them. —-
It is a fact taught by embryology that the human body before its birth passes through numerous stages of development which correspond exactly with the lower forms of animal life.
After birth the child develops MENTALLY in the same way, passing through inferior mental stages and reaching a state of benevolence, honesty, truthfulness and self-restraint only as a result of long education and wise control.
A perfectly truthful child probably never existed. All childish races of savages are incessant liars and thieves. All children passing through the primitive stages of mental development are naturally given to deception, and even to theft, especially when they are frightened by the consequences of truth, and when things which they desire are denied them.
All children are cruel–and there is no greater brutality than confiding a helpless animal to the tender mercies of a young child.
There may be a few exceptions, but they are very rare, and there is no reason why parents should expect their particular children to be the exceptions.
You may see a man of mature age, kind-hearted, absolutely benevolent and just. And you may learn that when he was a baby he bit his nurse, lied, and was cruel to animals and to other children.
But parents are stupidly egotistical, and believe that their pretty children ought to be born morally perfect.
This moral perfection can be obtained only as the result of education.
Don’t expect your children to be models of virtue.
Don’t brutalize them by punishments and contempt because you discover that their primitive mental life duplicates the mental conditions of inferior animals.
Set them a good example, and by education make them what you want them to be.
The ignorant and stupid belief that children are born naturally good accounts for the brutality of many fathers and the ruin of many young lives, making cowards of children, accentuating their untruthfulness and cowardice and their cruelty through a desire for revenge.
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