Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/615

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THE MANUAL ARTS

in the home. Ninety to ninety-five per cent, of our school children have one or more defective teeth. The sixth-year molars, as a rule, begin to decay within two years after their appearance. The teeth can only be saved by intelligent attention in the home. An individual's ideals of personal cleanliness are an off-shoot of the semi-instinctive sentiments of disgust and are pretty well molded, once for all, in the years preceding school age.

Again over-stimulation in the early years of childhood will leave its permanent influence upon health and character. A large proportion of parents do not half appreciate the importance of sufficient sleep for children. I have known a four-year-old child to be dragged out to a whist party, there to be kept awake till midnight, and then allowed to drink two cups of strong coffee. Investigations into the hours of sleep of school children show that more than half our school children sleep fewer hours per day than authorities have set as the safe minimum. Innumerable children are kept in a state of semi-intoxication by tea and coffee, drinks which are probably as injurious to the young as beer to the adult. Is it not inevitable that as long as such conditions obtain in the home the legal campaign for temperance will be empty of results, and even the artificial restrictions of vice sorely disappointing? Is it not evident that the first condition of moral development is physical health and perfect emotional balance? Neither the juvenile court, nor the playground, nor ethical instruction in the schools can undo the vicious work of the unfavorable home environment.

All of the above and much besides must be conceived and taught as part of domestic hygiene, which too often has concerned itself exclusively with the externals, such as architecture, plumbing, heating, ventilation, etc. The scope of the subject must be enlarged to include everything having to do with the physical and mental health of the family. In a thousand ways there are intimate and delicate relations of personal hygiene which can be adequately dealt with by no other agency than the home. As an example of this may be mentioned the instruction of children in the functions and hygiene of sex. Society faces few problems more important than this one and, considering the prevailing parental ignorance and neglect, certainly few more difficult ones. Havelock Ellis, after twenty years of scientific investigation of the pathology of sex development, reaches the conclusion that only a small minority of children reach maturity without suffering some of the results of sexual ignorance. The problem is equally one of national health and national morals, as is eloquently but awfully attested by the existence of between one and two million syphilitics in the United States. It is doubtful whether the question of sex hygiene can be satisfactorily solved in this country by instruction on the subject in the public schools, and much is to be said against this solution, but unless