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Definition of the Child – Article 1 and 2 - (2-2)

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Homo sapiens is the term commonly used to refer to the human race, which includes man, woman and child.

Why and how to define a child ?

The responses to these questions vary greatly according to historical moment and place. To take two examples, during the 17th (and beginning of the 18th) century in France, children as young as fifteen could be found at the head of Louis XIV's armies, while on the other hand, certain countries today limit marriage to adults and set the minimum age at 12.

As such, when can we say that a human being is a child or is no longer a child? What criteria should be used ? As we have seen, the understanding, perception and hence responses to these questions can vary greatly among cultures and over time.

How to define a child ? Let's look at the origin of a word closely related to child - infant, a young child. The root of the modern word « infant » is the Latin word « infans » meaning « he who does not speak ».

In the past, a child was considered like an object, whose life depended entirely on the choices, decisions and wishes of adults, reducing the child to the very well-known phrase : « a child should be seen but not heard ».

The evolution of ideas first allowed for the emergence of the concept of human rights, and later, the rights of the child. From that moment on, children were considered full-fledged human beings instead of future adults with only future rights.

Children are not little adults with little rights.

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