Many sex crimes are charged to children in the adolescent age; children who have no knowledge of sex and its development and are helpless in the strength of their newly-discovered feelings. This class of offenders is almost always the inferior and the poor who are moved by strong instincts which they have not the natural feeling, the strength, the education, nor the desire to withstand.
While most crimes against persons are not directly due to economic causes, still the indirect effect of property is generally present in these crimes as well as others. The fact that the poor and defective are generally the subjects of prosecution and conviction in these offences shows how closely economic conditions are related to all crimes.
Other criminal statutes are of more modern date, and as a rule involve not much more than adultery, except in regard to the age of the girl offender, which is generally placed below eighteen. Still the sex age of neither boys nor girls can be fixed by a calendar. It depends really upon development, which is not the same with all people or in all environments. Many girls of sixteen are more mature and have more experience of life than others of twenty. Most laws provide that below sixteen one cannot give consent and that a sexual act is then rape. It is doubtful if there should be any intermediate age between sixteen and eighteen, where an act is not rape but still a minor offence.
ROBBERY AND BURGLARY
Robbery and burglary are generally counted as crimes of violence, but they should be properly classed under property crimes. Every motive that leads to getting property in illegal ways applies to these crimes. There is added to the regular causes of property crimes the element of danger and adventure which makes a strong appeal to boys and men. I am inclined to think that few mature men have committed one of these crimes, unless they began criminal careers as boys. Such crimes especially appeal to the activity and love of adventure which inhere in every boy. They are committed for the most part by youths who have had almost no chance to get the needed sport and physical experience incident to boyhood. The foot-ball, base-ball, polo or golf player very seldom becomes a robber or a burglar. Almost no rich man or rich man’s son becomes a robber or a burglar. Those who fall under this lure are mainly the denizens of the streets, the railroad yards, the vacant lots, the casual workers who are stimulated by a variety of conditions to get property unlawfully. Added to this are almost invariably a defective heredity, vicious environment, little education, and a total want of direction in the building up of habits and inhibitions.