BY F. ARTHUR SIBLY, M.A., LL.D.
My contribution to this little book was originally intended for the eyes of parents, scoutmasters, and other adults. Since 1913, when the book was first published, it has been my privilege to receive from these so many letters of warm appreciation that it seems needless to retain the apologetic preface which I then wrote. The object which I had in view at that time was the hastening of a supremely important reform. I have to-day the very deep joy of knowing that my words have carried conviction to many adults and have given help to countless boys.
One result of this publication was entirely unlooked for. It did not occur to me, as I wrote, that the book would be read by boys and young men. It was not written at all for this purpose. In some respects its influence over them has, however, been increased by this obvious fact. In this book boys have, as it were, overheard a confidential conversation about themselves carried on by adults anxious for their welfare, and some at least are evidently more impressed by this conversation than by a direct appeal—in which they are liable to suspect exaggeration.
I have received hundreds of letters from boys and young men. These confirm in every way the conclusions set forth in this book, and prove that the need for guidance in sex matters is acute and universal. The relief and assistance which many boys have experienced from correspondence with me, and the interest which I find in their letters have caused me—spite of the extreme preoccupation of a strenuous life—to issue a special invitation to those who may feel inclined to write to me.
Great diversity of opinion exists as to the best method of giving sex instruction, and those who have had experience of one method are curiously blind to the merits of other methods, which they usually strongly denounce. While I have my own views as to the best method to adopt, I am quite sure that each one of very many methods can, in suitable hands, produce great good, and that the very poorest method is infinitely superior to no method at all.
Some are for oral teaching, some for the use of a pamphlet, some favour confidential individual teaching, others collective public teaching. Some would try to make sex a sacred subject; some would prefer to keep the emotional element out and treat reproduction as a matter-of-fact science subject. Some wish the parent to give the teaching, some the teacher, some the doctor, some a lecturer specially trained for this purpose. Good results have been obtained by every one of these methods.
During recent years much additional evidence has accumulated in my hands of the beneficent results of such teaching as I advocate in these pages, and I am confident that of boys who have been wisely guided and trained, few fail to lead clean lives even when associated with those who are generally and openly corrupt. I must, however, emphasise my belief that the cleanliness of a boy’s life depends ultimately not upon his knowledge of good and evil but upon his devotion to the Right.