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Children’s Rights, Historical Perspective on

From a history of ideas approach, this entry traces the development of the idea of freedom rights for children, one of the great changes through the 20th century in our thinking about children and their rights. The term rights became popular in the 18th century when the American Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man were signed. These documents enunciated freedom rights which applied only to adult citizens. In another sense of rights, namely welfare rights, children at least on paper and in some countries, already possessed them. The 18th-century English jurist Sir William Blackstone, in declaring the parents’ duties to provide maintenance, protection, and education, had already implicitly recognized a child’s right to receive these benefits from the parents. ...

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