The main reason was not the children’s’ meanness or the false-statements by so-called eye-witnesses, but the social-economic closed-minded attitudes brought about by local religious-magistrates’ over-zealousness. Yes, family-feuds, wild-imaginations, politics, religion, economics, and the “just-looking-for-someone-else-to-blame-for-my-bad-luck” syndrome all played parts in this tragedy.
Family-feuds evolved over religious-differences, land-ownership, borders, even which side of town you lived on. Politically Salem Town was an individualistic-based economic success deriving its wealth from the harbors, while Salem Village had a farm-based economy and felt that the others had corrupted the Puritan faith. The “blame-somebody-attitude” developed from ignorance of disease, just bad-luck, or over-imagination. The young girls’ acting out was a combination of boredom, idleness, desire to be noticed/accepted being brought forefront by their own book-reading and story-telling of Tituba. Some social-economic reasons were in the plight of the women involved as most were either older-widowed, unemployed-homeless, or a drain on local-resources.
After the witch-trials were halted, many were held in jail because they could not afford to buy their release, their property being confiscated. Since that time no one has died as a convicted-witch in America. Even today in our “freedom-based” country it is important to know that you can still be “arrested-and-tried” based upon the very same reasons as then.