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Legal, biological, and social definitions::Child

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Legal, biological, and social definitions

Children playing ball games, Roman artwork, 2nd century AD

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".<ref name="un">"Convention on the Rights of the Child" The Policy Press, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights</ref> This is ratified by 192 of 194 member countries. In U.S. Immigration Law, a child refers to anyone who is under the age of 21.<ref>8 U.S.C. § 1101(b)(1)</ref>

Biologically, a child is generally anyone between birth and puberty or in the developmental stage of childhood, between infancy and adulthood.<ref name="Child"/><ref name="Child 2"/> Some English definitions of the word child include the fetus (sometimes termed the unborn).<ref name="SeeShorter">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’.</ref> 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. 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. Toys and literature for children also began to develop at this time.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>


Child sections
Intro   Legal, biological, and social definitions   Social development  Age of responsibility  Child mortality  Education  Attitudes toward children  Gallery   See also    References    External links   

Legal, biological, and social definitions
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