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Abstract

Excerpt from the full-text article:

The way a society deals with its younger deviants reflects the place assigned to youth in hat society. In his famous study of European family life, Phillippe Aries pointed out that for centuries children shared the same status as adults and were mixed with adults as soon as they were weaned from their mothers at about the age of seven. And so it was possible that in England in 1801, a child of thirteen was hanged for stealing a spoon. A girl of seven was publicly hanged in 1808 and a boy of nine was hanged as late as 1831 for setting fire to a house. But insofar as a childhood status was afforded to the young in early America, the puritans turned their "rude, stubborn and unrujy children" over to Masters who would "force them to submit to government" In New York in the early 1800's it was declared that "If a child be found destitute- if abandoned by its parents-or suffered to lead a vicious or vagrant ife; or if convicted of any crime, it may be sent to the House of Refuge" And, as Anthony Platt observed, the child saving movement which helped initiate the juvenile court at the turn of the century actually invented large categories of delinquency which had up to that time been handled more or less informally. The new reforms in effect imposed sanctions on conduct unbecoming youth and in effect "sought to disqualify youth from enjoying adult privileges".

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