Child


Child
Children at a primary school in Paris
Peruvian school children in Lima

Biologically, a child (plural: children) is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child.[1] 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".[2]

Contents

Legal, biological, and social definitions

Population aged under 15 years in 2005

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".[3] Ratified by 192 of 194 member countries. Some English definitions of the word 'child' include the fetus and the unborn.[4] Biologically, a child is anyone between birth and puberty or in the developmental stage of childhood, between infancy and adulthood. Children generally have fewer rights than adults and are classed as not able to make serious decisions, and legally must always be under the care of a responsible adult.

As a non-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 painting: In the Middle Ages, 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.[5]

Children's Games, 1560, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

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.[6]

Socialization

Children in Namibia

All children go through stages of social development. An infant or very young child will play alone happily. If another child wanders onto the scene, he or she may be physically attacked or pushed out of the way. Next, the child is able to play with another child, gradually learning to share and take turns. Eventually the group grows larger, to three or four children. By the time a child enters kindergarten, he or she is usually able to join in and enjoy group experiences.[7]

Children with ADHD and learning disabilities may need extra help in developing social skills. The impulsive characteristics of an ADHD child may lead to poor peer relationships. Children with poor attention spans may not tune in to social cues in their environment, making it difficult for them to learn social skills through experience.[8] 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.

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 is threatened by early marriage, child labour and imprisonment.[9]

Child mortality

Children rounded up for deportation to the Chełmno extermination camp. Some 1.5 million Jewish children were murdered by the Nazis.

During the early 1600s in England, life expectancy was only about 35 years, largely because two-thirds of all children died before the age of four.[10] During the Industrial Revolution, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically.[11]

According to population health experts, child mortality rates have fallen sharply since the 1990s. Deaths of children under the age of five are down by 42% in the United States, while Serbia and Malaysia have cut their rates by nearly 70%.[12]

One child policy

See also: Two-child policy

China's one-child policy forces some couples to have no more than one child. China's population policy has been credited with a very significant slowing of China's population growth which had been higher before the policy was implemented. It has come under criticism that the implementation of the policy has involved forced abortions and forced sterilization. However, while the punishment of "unplanned" pregnancy is a fine, both forced abortion and forced sterilization can be charged with intentional assault, which is punished with up to 10 years' imprisonment. If born with another child and kept, parents must pay a large fine for every day he/she is alive.

See also

References

  1. ^ See Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 397 (6th ed. 2007), which's first definition is "A fetus; an infant;...". See also ‘The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary: Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically’, Vol. I (Oxford University Press, Oxford 1971): 396, which defines it as: ‘The unborn or newly born human being; foetus, infant’.
  2. ^ "American Heritage Dictionary". 2007-12-07. http://www.bartleby.com/61/13/C0291300.html. 
  3. ^ “Convention on the Rights of the Child” The Policy Press, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  4. ^ See Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 397 (6th ed. 2007), which's first definition is "A fetus; an infant;...". See also ‘The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary: Complete Text Reproduced Micrographically’, Vol. I (Oxford University Press, Oxford 1971): 396, which defines it as: ‘The unborn or newly born human being; foetus, infant’.
  5. ^ Essays on childhood
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Socialization stages
  8. ^ Juvenile courts
  9. ^ Melchiorre, A. (2004) At What Age?...are school-children employed, married and taken to court?
  10. ^ W. J. Rorabaugh, Donald T. Critchlow, Paula C. Baker (2004). "America's promise: a concise history of the United States". Rowman & Littlefield. p.47. ISBN 0742511898
  11. ^ "Modernization - Population Change". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  12. ^ Child mortality rates dropping

External links


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Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • child — n pl chil·dren 1: a son or daughter of any age and usu. including one formally adopted compare issue ◇ The word child as used in a statute or will is often held to include a stepchild, an illegitimate child, a person for whom one stands in loco… …   Law dictionary

  • child — child; Children Progeny; offspring of parentage. Unborn or recently born human being. Wilson v. Weaver, 358 F.Supp. 1147, 1154. At common law one who had not attained the age of fourteen years, though the meaning now varies in different statutes; …   Black's law dictionary

  • child — child; Children Progeny; offspring of parentage. Unborn or recently born human being. Wilson v. Weaver, 358 F.Supp. 1147, 1154. At common law one who had not attained the age of fourteen years, though the meaning now varies in different statutes; …   Black's law dictionary

  • child — W1S1 [tʃaıld] n plural children [ˈtʃıldrən] ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(young person)¦ 2¦(son/daughter)¦ 3¦(somebody influenced by an idea)¦ 4¦(somebody who is like a child)¦ 5 something is child s play 6 children should be seen and not heard 7 be with child …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Child & Co. — Child Co. Type Subsidiary Industry Private Banking and Wealth Management Founded 1664 Headquarters …   Wikipedia

  • Child — (ch[imac]ld), n.; pl. {Children} (ch[i^]l dr[e^]n). [AS. cild, pl. cildru; cf. Goth. kil[thorn]ei womb, in kil[thorn][=o] with child.] 1. A son or a daughter; a male or female descendant, in the first degree; the immediate progeny of human… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • child — [ tʃaıld ] (plural chil|dren [ tʃıldrən ] ) noun count *** 1. ) a young person from the time they are born until they are about 14 years old: The nursery has places for 30 children. The movie is not suitable for young children. He can t… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • child — child; child·hood; child·ing; child·ish; child·less; child·ly; fair·child·ite; grand·child; twi·child; un·child; child·ish·ly; child·ish·ness; child·less·ness; child·like·ness; …   English syllables

  • Child — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Desmond Child (* 1953), US amerikanischer Songschreiber, Komponist und Produzent Eilidh Child (* 1987), britische Leichtathletin Jane Child (* 1967), kanadische Musikerin und Popularmusiksängerin Josiah… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Child 44 —   Author(s) Tom Rob Smith Country United Kingdom …   Wikipedia

  • child — [chīld] n. pl. children [ME, pl. childre (now dial. childer; children is double pl.) < OE cild, pl. cild, cildru < IE * gelt , a swelling up < base * gel , rounded (sense development: swelling womb fetus offspring > Goth kilthei, womb …   English World dictionary


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