Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 241
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 241
 
crease among the East Side boys. And it is amazing at what an early age it begins. When, in the fight for a truant school, I had occasion to gather statistics upon this subject, to meet the sneer of the educational authorities that the “crimes” of street boys compassed at worst the theft of a top or a marble, I found among 278 prisoners, of whom I had kept the run for ten months, two boys, of four and eight years respectively, arrested for breaking into a grocery, not to get candy or prunes, but to rob the till. The little one was useful to “crawl through a small hole.” There were “burglars” of six and seven years; and five in a bunch, the whole gang apparently, at the age of eight. “Wild” boys began to appear in court at that age. At eleven, I had seven thieves, two of whom had a record on the police blotter, and an “habitual liar”; at twelve, I had four burglars, three ordinary thieves, two arrested for drunkenness, three for assault, and three incendiaries; at thirteen, five burglars, one with a “record,” as many thieves, one “drunk,” five charged with assault and one with forgery; at fourteen, eleven thieves and house-breakers, six highway robbers,— the gang on its unlucky day, perhaps,—and ten arrested for fighting, not counting one who had assaulted a police-man, in a state of drunken frenzy. One of the gangs made a specialty of stealing baby carriages,

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