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Can Teenage Defiance Be Manipulated for Good?

Since there have been teenagers, there have been adults trying to control them. The Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the Stubborn Child Law in 1646, allowing parents to have their defiant teenage sons put to death. The Bible suggests stoning them to death. But what if adolescent defiance is not a demon to be exorcised, but a power to be harnessed?

The brains of adolescents are notoriously more receptive to short-term rewards and peer approval, which can lead to risky behavior. But researchers and educators are noticing that young people are also more sensitive to notions of social justice and autonomy. Teenage rebellion can be virtuous — even wholesome — depending on the situation.