A child (plural: children) is a human between the stages of birth and puberty. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority. "Child" may also describe a relationship with a parent or authority figure, 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."
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as "a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier." Biologically, a child is anyone in the developmental stage of childhood, between infancy and adulthood.
Attitudes toward children
Social attitudes toward children differ around the world in various cultures. These attitudes have changed over time. A 1988 study on European attitudes toward the centrality of children found that Italy was more child-centric and Holland less child-centric, with other countries, such as Austria, Great Britain, Ireland and West Germany falling in between.
Age of responsibility
The age at which children are considered responsible for their own actions 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. In the nineteenth century, children younger than seven years old were believed incapable of crime. Children from the age of seven 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.
Women seem to have more intuition than men, but they also appear to be somewhat less logical. Woman, however, has always been the moral standard-bearer and the spiritual leader of mankind. The hand that rocks the cradle still fraternizes with destiny.
- "American Heritage Dictionary". 2007-12-07. http://www.bartleby.com/61/13/C0291300.html.
- "Convention on the Rights of the Child". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/k2crc.htm. Ratified by 192 of 194 member countries.
- Rachel K. Jones and April Brayfield, Life's greatest joy?: European attitudes toward the centrality of children. Social Forces, Vol. 75, No. 4, Jun 1997. 1,239-69 pp. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.