Nonfiction > Jacob A. Riis > The Battle with the Slum > Page 249
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Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914).  The Battle with the Slum.  1902.

Page 249
 
risen to the dignity of a bank account—drew them out, until the run ceased. This same gang which, the year before, was training for trouble with the police!
  The cry, “Get the boys off the street,” that has been raised in our cities, as the real gravity of the situation has been made clear, has led to the adoption of curfew ordinances in many places. Any attempt to fit such a scheme to metropolitan life would result only in adding one more dead-letter law, more dangerous than all the rest, to those we have. New York is New York, and one look at the crowds in the streets and the tenements will convince anybody. Besides, the curfew rings at nine o’clock. The dangerous hours, when the gang is made, are from seven to nine, between supper and bedtime. This is the gap the club fills out. The boys take to the street because the home has nothing to keep them there. To lock them up in the house would only make them hate it more. The club follows the line of least resistance. It has only to keep also on the line of common sense. It must be a real club, not a reformatory. Its proper function is to head off the jail. The gang must not run it. But rather that than have it help train up a band of wretched young cads. The signs are not hard to make out. When a boy has had his head swelled by his importance as a member of the Junior

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