Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 240
Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 240
and his daughter, who manifested great interest and joined heartily in the proposed movement. A week later, I was thunderstruck at reading of the arrest of my sympathetic friend’s son for train-wrecking up the state. The fellow was of the same age as Mike. It appeared that he was supposed to be attending school, but had been reading dime novels instead, until he arrived at the point where he “had to kill some one before the end of the month.” To that end he organized a gang of admiring but less resourceful comrades. After all, the planes of fellowship of Poverty Gap and Madison Avenue lie nearer than we often suppose. I set the incident down in justice to the memory of my friend Mike. If this one went astray with so much to pull him the right way and but the single strand broken, what then of the other?
  Mike’s was the day of Irish heroics. Since their scene was shifted from the East Side, there has come over there an epidemic of child crime of meaner sort, but following the same principle of gang organization. It is difficult to ascertain the exact extent of it, because of the well-meant but, I am inclined to think, mistaken effort on the part of the children’s societies to suppress the record of it for the sake of the boy. Enough testimony comes from the police and the courts, however, to make it clear that thieving is largely on the increase



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