Stubborn Child Law

In the year 1646, the Stubborn Child Law was enacted in Massachusetts Bay Colony the Puritans. Parents who claim that their child is rebellious or stubborn could ask for State reprimands and could also include execution. This law was on the statute books of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for more than three hundred years and was only repealed in 1973.

The Stubborn Child Law had the death penalty as an ultimate sanction and derived almost from an Old Testament injunction in the Deuteronomy book. On the Sanhedrin, Talmudic scholars explained this was one of the three biblical punishments that were not mean to be carried out but serve as caution and warning for the good of society.

In the case of the Massachusetts law, no child was put to death but hundreds of children, probably younger than sixteen; both girls and boys were incarcerated in various institutions as per order of the Courts since their parents present an official complaint against these children before the authorities. Parents who went to authorities cited unwillingness of the children to embrace parental discipline and authority as the reason for their actions. This law served as caution to children and teenagers at that time to follow their parents to avoid the punishment of law.

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