What is a Child?

The word child comes from the Old English word cild, meaning “young person.” A child is usually a person below the age of puberty (biologically) or below the legal adult age of majority. A child is usually a male or female human being.

Children have the right to play and have fun, and to take part in cultural activities. They also have the right to rest, relax and be safe from harmful influences. They should not be forced to work or be taken advantage of by people who want to make them do something against their will, for example, making them have sex against their will or showing them pornography. Children have the right to express themselves freely and share their views with others, through talking, drawing and writing, as long as it does not harm anyone else. This includes their right to freedom of religion. They have the right to use their own language and culture, even if it is not shared by most other people in the country where they live.

They have the right to be treated equally with adults, regardless of their gender or sex. This includes the right to education, health care and other services that are necessary for them to grow up and become healthy adults. It also means that they should not be discriminated against because of their ethnic origin or their religion.

Getting down to a child’s eye level and joining them in their world will help you to connect with them. This may mean physically crouching down or sitting on the floor with them, playing with them or just watching them at play. You can learn a lot about a child this way and it will be much more effective than telling them off for something they have done wrong.

Children also have the right to live, and that is the main thing. They should have a home and parents who love them. They should not be killed, sold or kidnapped. They have the right to an identity document, which should include their family relationship, name and nationality, so that they can be easily traced. This should not be taken away from them by anyone, and governments should help children to get their identities back if they are lost.

Children can be naughty, but they are still our best hope for a better future. They can learn from the mistakes of their elders, and they can change the world for the better, if we give them the opportunity to do so. If we teach them right from wrong, and show them how to respect other people, they can build a world where there is less violence and more peace. For that to happen, we need to start today. And the best way to do that is by starting at a young age. – Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. For permission to use this dictionary, please see our permissions policy.