[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the “M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You” used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]
Choosing Companions and Making Friends
A FEW YEARS ago in an eastern city two young boys, fourteen years of age, lived in a dilapidated slum area under very sordid surroundings and circumstances. Most of the children in that neighborhood had learned to steal fruit and trinkets from the grocery and other stores. In fact, groups of the boys often held secret gang meetings and planned thefts and minor depredations. One day the two boys decided to steal some coal from the railroad cars which were on the sidings near one of the stations. As they were about to walk away with two sacks of coal, a private detective came from behind a car and started after them. Both lads sprinted as fast as they could. The one was a fast runner and managed to get away while his companion was caught. The boy who escaped, when he was at a safe distance, sat down and had “a talk with himself.” He decided that what he was doing would lead to jails and prisons. He promised himself that he would quit going around with boys and girls who were stealing and in the future would associate only with those who were law-abiding. The other boy was sent to a detention home. When he had served his time, he returned to his former companions and a life of delinquency and crime. What happened to the two lads? The boy who went to the detention home gradually became a habitual criminal and served many terms in various jails and prisons. The other lad, who forsook his early companions, became a successful minister.
1. How much influence do you think the friends of the two boys had on them?
2. Does one tend to follow the behavior of his friends?