Child, Francis James, 1825-96, American scholar, b. Boston, grad. Harvard, 1846. At Harvard he was professor of rhetoric (1851-76) and English literature (1876-96). He greatly influenced modern methods of Chaucer study. He is best known, however, for his English and Scottish Popular Ballads (5 vol., 1883-98). This is a major source on folklore in which Child defined, with examples, some 305 types of ballads, including complete textual variations.
Child, Sir John, d. 1690, English administrator in India. In 1680 he was appointed the British East India Company's agent at Surat, then the company's main factory (i.e., trading station) in W India. In 1685, Sir John moved the company's seat of government from Surat to Bombay (now Mumbai), and in 1686 he was given authority over all the company's possessions in India. His tyrannical methods alienated many; his defeat by the Mughal emperor led to a demand that he be removed from India, but he died before the issue was settled. Sir John's activities were supported in England by Sir Josiah Child, 1630-99, who was possibly his brother. A merchant and early mercantilist, he made a fortune supplying the navy and from 1681 to 1690 virtually ruled the East India Company, of which he was deputy governor (1684-86, 1688-90) and governor (1681-83, 1686-88). His New Discourse of Trade (final form, 1693) was an early plea for some of the principles of free trade.
Child, Julia, 1912-2004, American cooking teacher, author, and television personality, b. Pasadena, Calif., as Julia Carolyn McWilliams. She learned French cooking while her husband was in the diplomatic service in France during the late 1940s. In 1961, Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle wrote the now-classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the first practical and comparatively accessible such cookbook for an American audience. Shortly thereafter, she began hosting a series of educational television programs; the best known, The French Chef (1963-76), transformed her into an Emmy-winning public-broadcasting star. Child's comfortable, off-hand manner took the intimidating quality out of preparing French cuisine and helped to change American styles of cooking and eating as well as American attidudes toward food. Her many other cookbooks include From Julia Child's Kitchen (1975) and The Way to Cook (1989). Child's kitchen was dismantled and permanently installed in the Smithsonian Institution.

See her My Life in France (2006, with A. Prud'homme); biographies by N. R. Fitch (1997) and L. Shapiro (2007); N. V. Barr, Backstage with Julia (2007).

Child, Lydia Maria, 1802-80, American author and abolitionist, b. Lydia Maria Francis, Medford, Mass. She edited (1826-34) the Juvenile Miscellany, a children's periodical. She and her husband (David Lee Child, whom she married in 1828) were devoted to the antislavery cause; she wrote widely read pamphlets on the subject in addition to editing (1841-49) the National Anti-Slavery Standard, a New York City weekly newspaper. Selections from her Standard essays were published in 1999 as Letters from New-York. Other writings include several historical novels and a book on the history of religions. Her Frugal Housewife (1829) went through many editions.

See her letters (with introduction by J. G. Whittier, 1883, repr. 1970); biographies by H. G. Baer (1964), M. Meltzer (1965), W. S. Osborne (1980), D. P. Clifford (1992), and C. Karcher (1994).

A child is a human being between birth and puberty; a boy or girl. 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.


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as "every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.Biologically, a child is anyone in the developmental stage of childhood, between infancy and adulthood.

Attitudes toward children

Social attitudes toward children differ around the world, and these attitudes have changed over time. One study has found children in the United States are coddled and overprotected. A 1988 study on European attitudes toward the centrality of children found Italy was more child-centric and Holland less child-centric, with other countries (Austria, Great Britain, Ireland, and West Germany) falling in between.

Age of responsibility

The age at which children are considered responsible for their own actions 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 nineteenth century, children younger than seven years old were believed incapable of crime. Children from the age of seven were considered responsible for their actions. Hence, they could face criminal charges, be sent to adult prisons, and be punished like adults by whipping, branding or hanging.

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