Childhood is a broad term usually applied to the phase of human development between infancy and adulthood. According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, childhood is the period between the end of infancy (about 2 years of age) and the onset of puberty, marking the beginning of adolescence (10–12 years of age). This period is divided into:
- early childhood, from 2 years through the preschool age of 5 or 6 years;
- middle childhood, from 6 to 8–10 years of age; and
- late childhood or preadolescence, which is identified as the 2-year period before the onset of puberty.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) is an international agreement on childhood, setting out the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of children. It 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." It’s become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history and has helped transform children’s lives around the world. But still not every child gets to enjoy a full childhood. Still, too many childhoods are cut short.
Childhood is a crucial time of development of physical bodies and mental abilities. Yet it is also a time of freedom from the responsibilities of adult life, a time in which parents or responsible adults take care of the child, fulfilling their needs and keeping them safe. The role of parents and other caretakers, including both those within the family and those in the wider community such as teachers, is crucial in guiding the child to make good decisions (New World Encyclopedia: Childhood).
The legal definition of "child" is interchangeable with “minor” and may vary by country, in keeping with cultural conceptions. Besides, social attitudes toward children differ around the world, and these attitudes have changed over time. Modern views regard childhood as a most significant time. Concurrent with it has been greater societal awareness of children as in need of care, attention, and protection, which has been reflected in legislation mandating compulsory education, protection from exploitation through child labor, and against child abuse within others (New World Encyclopedia: Childhood). These developments are still recent, in the course of History childhood was viewed differently depending on the time and socio cultural context.
Childhood. APA Dictionary of Psychology. Retrieved January 02, 2023.
Childhood. New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 02, 2023.