Many writers have classified the crimes that the boy commits. It is scarcely worth the while. He learns to steal or becomes a burglar largely for the love of adventure; he robs because it is exciting and may bring large returns. In his excursions to pilfer property he may kill, and then for the first time the State discovers that there is such a boy and sets in action the machinery to take his life. The city quite probably has given him a casual notice by arresting him a number of times and sending him to a juvenile prison, but it has rarely extended a hand to help him. Any man or woman who has fairly normal faculties, and can reason from cause to effect, knows that the crimes of children are really the crimes of the State and society which by neglect and active participation have made him what he is. When it is remembered that the man is the child grown up, it is equally easy to understand the adult prisoner.
Crimes against persons are not always as easy to classify and understand as crimes against property. These acts are so numerous and come from so many different emotions and motives, that often the cause is obscure and the explanation not easy to find. Still here, as everywhere in Nature, nothing can happen without a cause, and even where limited knowledge does its best and cannot find causes, our recognition of the connection between cause and effect and the all-inclusiveness of law can leave no doubt that complete knowledge would bring complete understanding.
It is always to be borne in mind in considering this class of crimes that the motive power of life is not reason but instinct. If men lived by reason the race would not survive. The primal things that preserve the race, the hunger for food, drink, sex, are instinctive and not only are not awakened or satisfied by reason, but oftentimes in violation of it. Nature, first of all, sees to the preservation of the species, and acts in a broad way that life may not perish. Nature knows nothing about right and wrong in the sense in which man uses these words. All of our moral conceptions are purely of social origin and hence not instinctive in human life, and are forever giving way to the instincts on which Nature depends. The preservation of life has called for the emotions of hate, fear and love, among the other emotions that move men. The animal fears danger and runs away, and thus life is preserved. The weaker animal is almost entirely dependent for life upon his fear. He is sometimes afraid when there is no danger, but without fear he would be destroyed. Sometimes the animal hates and kills and thus preserves himself. The love of offspring is the cause of the care bestowed upon it which preserves its life. The herd instinct in animal species develops packs and clans and tribes and states. Man is the heir to all the past, and the instincts and emotions of the primitive animal are strong in his being. These may have been strengthened or diluted as the ages have come and gone, but the same instincts furnish the motive power for all his acts. Man fears and hates, and runs or kills and saves his life. He loves, and preserves his offspring.