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Child depravity refers to the concept of children (i.e., those 17 years and younger) being in a state of total immorality—that is, evil, corrupt, or perverted. It is relevant to this volume because it raises important questions about what qualities are essential to being a child and what it means when a child is no longer categorized as such. This entry explores the history of the concept in both fictional and nonfictional texts and discusses the implications of mobilizing the concept when children engage in acts considered to be depraved.

Throughout Anglo-American history, there has been a persistent thread in Christian discourse that pertains to the notion of “child depravity.” The idea that people are born of original sin can be found in the early theological ...

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