Child

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Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human being between the stages of birth and puberty, [1] [2] or between the developmental period of infancy and puberty. [3] The legal definition of child generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority. [1] Children generally have fewer rights and less responsibility than adults. They are classed as unable to make serious decisions, and legally must be under the care of their parents or another responsible caregiver.

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Child may also describe a relationship with a parent (such as sons and daughters of any age) [4] or, metaphorically, an 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". [5]

Children playing ball games, Roman artwork, 2nd century AD Children games Louvre Ma99 n2.jpg
Children playing ball games, Roman artwork, 2nd century AD

Biologically, a child is a person between birth and puberty, [1] [2] or between the developmental period of infancy and puberty. [3] Legally, the term child may refer to anyone below the age of majority or some other age limit.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines child as "a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier". [6] This is ratified by 192 of 194 member countries. The term child may also refer to someone below another legally defined age limit unconnected to the age of majority. In Singapore, for example, a child is legally defined as someone under the age of 14 under the "Children and Young Persons Act" whereas the age of majority is 21. [7] [8] In U.S. Immigration Law, a child refers to anyone who is under the age of 21. [9]

Some English definitions of the word child include the fetus (sometimes termed the unborn). [10] In many cultures, a child is considered an adult after undergoing a rite of passage, which may or may not correspond to the time of puberty.

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 or child custody, whether their parents divorce or not. 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, children were portrayed in art as miniature adults with no childlike characteristics. In the 16th century, images of children began to acquire a distinct childlike appearance. From the late 17th century onwards, children were shown playing with toys and later literature for children also began to develop at this time. [11]

Development

According to Professor Peter Jones of Cambridge University development of the brain continues long past legal definitions of adulthood so "to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd. It's a much more nuanced transition that takes place over three decades." [12] Children go through stages of social development. Children learn initially through play and later in most societies through formal schooling. As a child is growing they are learning how to do some tasks in chronological order. They learn how to prioritize their goals and actions. Their behavior is transcending as they learn new perspectives from other people. They learn how to represent certain things symbolically and learn new behavior. [13]

Health

Children with ADHD and learning disabilities may need extra help to develop social skills. The impulsive characteristics of an ADHD child may lead to poor peer relationships. Children with poor attention spans may not tune into social cues in their environment, making it difficult for them to learn social skills through experience. [14] Health issues affecting children are generally managed separately from those affecting adults, by pediatricians.

Age of responsibility

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. However, courts at the time would consider the offender's age when deliberating sentencing. [15] Minimum employment age and marriage age also vary. The age limit of voluntary/involuntary military service is also disputed at the international level. [16]

Child mortality

World infant mortality rates in 2012. 2012 Infant mortality rate per 1000 live births, under-5, world map.svg
World infant mortality rates in 2012.

During the early 17th century in England, about two-thirds of all children died before the age of four. [18] During the Industrial Revolution, the life expectancy of children increased dramatically. [19] This has continued in England, and in the 21st century child mortality rates have fallen across the world. About 12.6 million under-five infants died worldwide in 1990, which declined to 6.6 million in 2012. The infant mortality rate dropped from 90 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990, to 48 in 2012. The highest average infant mortality rates are in sub-Saharan Africa, at 98 deaths per 1,000 live births – over double the world's average. [17]

Education

Children in an outdoor classroom in Bie, Angola Kuito class.jpg
Children in an outdoor classroom in Bié, Angola

Education, in the general sense, refers to the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and preparing intellectually for mature life. [20] Formal education most often takes place through schooling. A right to education has been recognized by some governments. At the global level, Article 13 of the United Nations' 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes the right of everyone to an education. [21] Education is compulsory in most places up to a certain age, but attendance at school may not be, with alternative options such as home-schooling or e-learning being recognized as valid forms of education in certain jurisdictions.

Children in some countries (especially in parts of Africa and Asia) are often kept out of school, or attend only for short periods. Data from UNICEF indicate that in 2011, 57 million children were out of school; and more than 20% of African children have never attended primary school or have left without completing primary education. [22] According to a UN report, warfare is preventing 28 million children worldwide from receiving an education, due to the risk of sexual violence and attacks in schools. [23] Other factors that keep children out of school include poverty, child labor, social attitudes, and long distances to school. [24] [25]

Attitudes toward children

Group of breaker boys in Pittston, Pennsylvania, 1911. Child labor was widespread until the early 20th century. In the 21st century, child labor rates are highest in Africa. Group of Breaker boys. Smallest is Sam Belloma.jpg
Group of breaker boys in Pittston, Pennsylvania, 1911. Child labor was widespread until the early 20th century. In the 21st century, child labor rates are highest in Africa.

Social attitudes toward children differ around the world in various cultures and change over time. A 1988 study on European attitudes toward the centrality of children found that Italy was more child-centric and the Netherlands less child-centric, with other countries, such as Austria, Great Britain, Ireland and West Germany falling in between. [26]

In 2013, child marriage rates of female children under the age of 18 reached 75% in Niger, 68% in Central African Republic and Chad, 66% in Bangladesh, and 47% in India. [27] According to a 2019 UNICEF report on child marriage, 37% of females were married before the age of 18 in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by South Asia at 30%. Lower levels were found in Latin America and Caribbean (25%), the Middle East and North Africa (18%), and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (11%), while rates in Western Europe and North America were minimal. [28] Child marriage is more prevalent with girls, but also involves boys. A 2018 study in the journal Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies found that, worldwide, 4.5% of males are married before age 18, with the Central African Republic having the highest average rate at 27.9%. [29]

Protection of children from abuse is considered an important contemporary goal. This includes protecting children from exploitation such as child labor, child trafficking and selling, child sexual abuse, including child prostitution and child pornography, military use of children, and child laundering in illegal adoptions. There exist several international instruments for these purposes, such as:

Emergencies and conflicts

Emergencies and conflicts pose detrimental risks to the health, safety, and well-being of children. There are many different kinds of conflicts and emergencies, e.g. wars and natural disasters. As of 2010 approximately 13 million children are displaced by armed conflicts and violence around the world. [30] Where violent conflicts are the norm, the lives of young children are significantly disrupted and their families have great difficulty in offering the sensitive and consistent care that young children need for their healthy development. [30] Studies on the effect of emergencies and conflict on the physical and mental health of children between birth and 8 years old show that where the disaster is natural, the rate of PTSD occurs in anywhere from 3 to 87 percent of affected children. [31] However, rates of PTSD for children living in chronic conflict conditions varies from 15 to 50 percent. [32] [33]

See also

Sources

Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg  This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0 License statement/permission on Wikimedia Commons . Text taken from Investing against Evidence: The Global State of Early Childhood Care and Education , 118–125, Marope, P.T.M., Kaga, Y., UNESCO. UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use. Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg  This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0 License statement/permission on Wikimedia Commons . Text taken from Creating sustainable futures for all; Global education monitoring report, 2016; Gender review , 20, UNESCO, UNESCO. UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Related Research Articles

Infant mortality

Infant mortality is the death of young children under the age of 1. This death toll is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), which is the probability of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births. The under-five mortality rate, which is referred to as the child mortality rate, is also an important statistic, considering the infant mortality rate focuses only on children under one year of age.

An infant is the more formal or specialised synonym for "baby", the very young offspring of a human. The term may also be used to refer to juveniles of other organisms.

Childhood Sociological term describing human age from birth to adolescence

Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to puberty. It may also include adolescence, but precedes adulthood regardless. According to Piaget's theory of cognitive development, childhood consists of two stages: preoperational stage and concrete operational stage. In developmental psychology, childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. Various childhood factors could affect a person's attitude formation.

Biologically, an adult is an organism that has reached sexual maturity. In human context, the term adult additionally has meanings associated with social and legal concepts. In contrast to a "minor", a legal adult is a person who has attained the age of majority and is therefore regarded as independent, self-sufficient, and responsible. The typical age of attaining legal adulthood is 18, although definition may vary by legal rights and country.

Youth Time of life when one is young

Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as "the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young". Its definitions of a specific age range varies, as youth is not defined chronologically as a stage that can be tied to specific age ranges; nor can its end point be linked to specific activities, such as taking unpaid work or having sexual relations.

Child marriage Marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching the age of 18

Child marriage is a marriage or similar union, formal or informal, between a child and an adult or another child under a certain age, typically age eighteen. The vast majority of child marriages are between a girl and a man, and are rooted in gender inequality.

Early childhood education

Early childhood education is a branch of education theory that relates to the teaching of children from birth up to the age of eight. Traditionally, this is up to the equivalent of third grade. ECE emerged as a field of study during the Enlightenment, particularly in European countries with high literacy rates. It continued to grow through the nineteenth century as universal primary education became a norm in the Western world. In recent years, early childhood education has become a prevalent public policy issue, as municipal, state, and federal lawmakers consider funding for preschool and pre-K. The global priority placed on early childhood education is underscored with targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4. It is described as an important period in a child's development. It refers to the development of a child's personality. ECE is also a professional designation earned through a post-secondary education program. For example, in Ontario, Canada, the designations ECE and RECE may only be used by registered members of the College of Early Childhood Educators, which is made up of accredited child care professionals who are held accountable to the College's standards of practice.

The United Nations World Summit for Children was held in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on 29–30 September 1990. The summit had the then-largest-ever gathering of heads of state and government to commit to a set of goals to improve the well-being of children worldwide by the year 2000. It was the first time a UN conference had set a broad agenda for a wide range of goals in health, education, nutrition and human rights.

Children's rights are a subset of human rights with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors. The 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines a child as "any human being below the age of eighteen years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier." Children's rights includes their right to association with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for physical protection, food, universal state-paid education, health care, and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child's civil rights, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of the child's race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, color, ethnicity, or other characteristics. Interpretations of children's rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, though what constitutes "abuse" is a matter of debate. Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing. There are no definitions of other terms used to describe young people such as "adolescents", "teenagers", or "youth" in international law, but the children's rights movement is considered distinct from the youth rights movement. The field of children's rights spans the fields of law, politics, religion, and morality.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to children:

Child poverty

Child poverty refers to the state of children living in poverty and applies to children from poor families or orphans being raised with limited or, in some cases absent, state resources. Children that fail to meet the minimum acceptable standard of the nation where that child lives are said to be poor. In developing countries, these standards are low and, when combined with the increased number of orphans, the effects are more extreme.

Child mortality Death rate of infants and young children

Child mortality is the mortality of children under the age of five. The child mortality rate, also under-five mortality rate, refers to the probability of dying between birth and exactly five years of age expressed per 1,000 live births.

Family group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence

In human society, family is a group of people related either by consanguinity or affinity. The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, families would offer predictability, structure, and safety as members mature and participate in the community. In most societies, it is within families that children acquire socialization for life outside the family, and acts as the primary source of attachment, nurturing, and socialization for humans. Additionally, as the basic unit for meeting the basic needs of its members, it provides a sense of boundaries for performing tasks in a safe environment, ideally builds a person into a functional adult, transmits culture, and ensures continuity of humankind with precedents of knowledge.

Women in Mali

The status and social roles of women in Mali have been formed by the complex interplay of a variety of traditions in ethnic communities, the rise and fall of the great Sahelien states, French colonial rule, independence, urbanisation, and postcolonial conflict and progress. Forming just less than half Mali's population, Malian women have sometimes been the center of matrilineal societies, but have always been crucial to the economic and social structure of this largely rural, agricultural society.

UNICEF

UNICEF, also known as the United Nations Children's Fund, is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. The agency is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories. UNICEF's activities include providing immunizations and disease prevention, administering treatment for children and mothers with HIV, enhancing childhood and maternal nutrition, improving sanitation, promoting education, and providing emergency relief in response to disasters.

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a government programme in India which provides food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers. The scheme was launched in 1975, discontinued in 1978 by the government of Morarji Desai, and then relaunched by the Tenth Five Year Plan.

Child marriage in India Child marriages in India

Child marriage in India, according to the Indian law, is a marriage where either the woman is below the age of 18 or the man is below the age of 21. Most child marriages involve underage women, many of whom are in poor socio-economic conditions.

Traditional gender roles in Egypt are prevalent and clearly defined. These roles are largely associated with traditional Islamic family structures, wherein women's roles are closely tied to the domestic sphere and men's roles tied to the public sphere. Gender roles are based on assumed biological differences between the sexes and can lead to dramatically different life experiences as well as opportunities and outcomes for individuals. Consequently, when looking at a number of indicators, women often find themselves disadvantaged relative to men.

Child health and nutrition in Africa is concerned with the health care of children through adolescents in the various countries of Africa. The right to health and a nutritious and sufficient diet are internationally recognized fundamental human rights protected by international treaties and conventions on the right to life, as well as in charters, strategies and declarations. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1, 4, 5 and 6 highlight, respectively, how poverty, hunger, child mortality, maternal health, the eradication of HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases are of particular significance in the context of child health.

References

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