Topics: Childhood, Human rights, Law Pages: 9 (2184 words) Published: July 4, 2013
childBiologically, a child (plural: children) is a human[->0] between the stages of birth[->1] and puberty[->2].[1] The legal definition of child generally refers to a minor[->3], otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority[->4].[1] Child may also describe a relationship with a parent (such as sons[->5] and daughters[->6] of any age)[2] or, metaphorically, an authority figure[->7], or signify group membership in a clan, tribe, or religion; it can also signify being strongly affected by a specific time, place, or circumstance, as in "a child of nature" or "a child of the Sixties".[ Legal, biological, and social definitions[edit]

The United Nations[->8] Convention on the Rights of the Child[->9] defines a child as "a human being[->10] below the age of 18 years unless under the law[->11] applicable to the child, majority[->12] is attained earlier".[4] Ratified by 192 of 194 member countries. Some English definitions of the word 'child' include the fetus[->13] and the unborn.[5] Biologically, a child is anyone between birth and puberty or in the developmental[->14] stage of childhood[->15], between infancy[->16] and adulthood[->17].[1] Children generally have fewer rights than adults and are classed as unable to make serious decisions, and legally must always be under the care of a responsible adult. Recognition of childhood as a state different from adulthood began to emerge in the 16th and 17th centuries. Society began to relate to the child not as a miniature adult but as a person of a lower level of maturity needing adult protection, love and nurturing. This change can be traced in paintings: In the Middle Ages[->18], children were portrayed in art as miniature adults with no childish characteristics. In the 16th century, images of children began to acquire a distinct childish appearance. From the late 17th century onwards, children were shown playing. Toys and literature for children also began to develop at this time.[6] Age of responsibility[edit]

Further information: Age of consent[->19], Age of majority[->20], Age of criminal responsibility[->21], and Marriageable age[->22] The age at which children are considered responsible for their society-bound actions (e. g. marriage, voting, etc.) has also changed over time, and this is reflected in the way they are treated in courts of law. In Roman times, children were regarded as not culpable for crimes, a position later adopted by the Church. In the 19th century, children younger than seven years old were believed incapable of crime. Children from the age of seven forward were considered responsible for their actions. Therefore, they could face criminal charges, be sent to adult prison, and be punished like adults by whipping, branding or hanging.[9] Today, in many countries like Canada and the United States, children twelve and older are held responsible for their actions and may be sent to special correctional institutions, such as juvenile hall[->23]. Surveys have found that at least 25 countries around the world have no specified age for compulsory education. Minimum employment age and marriage age also vary. In at least 125 countries, children aged 7–15 may be taken to court and risk imprisonment for criminal acts. In some countries, children are legally obliged to go to school until they are 14 or 15 years old, but may also work before that age. A child's right to education[->24] is threatened by early marriage, child labour[->25] and imprisonment.[10] Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence[->26].[1] According to Piaget's theory of cognitive development[->27], childhood consists of two stages: preoperational stage and concrete operational stage. In developmental psychology[->28], childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of toddlerhood[->29] (learning to walk), early childhood[->30] (play age), middle childhood (school age), and adolescence (puberty through post-puberty). Various childhood factors could affect a...
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