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  • Stubborn Children Law

    Stubborn Children Law


    • The General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted a law in November 1646 providing, among other things, for the capital punishment of male children that were disobedient to their parents. Although death as a penalty was later removed and punishment for disobedient daughters was added, the law was not repealed until 1973. Similar laws were enacted in Connecticut in 1650, Rhode Island in 1688, and New Hampshire in 1679.

      The Massachusetts law stated: "If a man have a stubborn or rebellious son, of sufficient years and understanding sixteen years of age, which will not obey the voice of his Father, or the voice of his Mother, and that when they have chastened him will not harken unto them: then shall his Father and Mother being his natural parents, lay hold on him, and bring him to the Magistrates assembled in Court and testify unto them, that their son is stubborn and rebellious and will not obey their voice and chastisement, but lives in sundry notorious crimes, such a son shall be put to death."

      The penalty of death as a punishment for a delinquent son is included in the book of Deuteronomy chapter twenty-one verses 18 through 21 of the Bible; this part of the Deuteronomic Code provides for stoning a stubborn and rebellious son.



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