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Infants

Legal Rights Of Children, Child Protection, Constitutional Rights Of Children In The Educational Setting, Age Of Legal Medical Consent

Persons who are under the age of legal majority—at COMMON LAW, 21 years, now generally 18 years. According to the sense in which this term is used, it may denote the age of the person, the contractual disabilities that non-age entails, or his or her status with regard to other powers or relations.

Modern laws respecting the rights, obligations, and incapacities of children are rooted in ancient customs and practices. In 1765, SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, wrote that parents owe their children three duties: maintenance, protection, and education. Today, these three duties continue, and have been expanded by judicial and legislative advancements. The notion of CHILDREN'S RIGHTS has evolved into a highly controversial and dynamic area of law.

Common law held an infant, also called a minor or child, to be a person less than 21 years old. Currently, most state statutes define the age of majority to be 18. Although a person must attain the age of majority to vote, make a will, or hold public office, children are increasingly being recognized by society, legislatures, and the courts as requiring greater protections and deserving greater rights than they were afforded under common law. The law is caught in a tugof-war between two equally compelling and worthy societal interests: the desire to protect children from harmful situations and from their own immaturity and lack of experience, and the desire to give children as much autonomy as they can bear as soon as they can bear it.

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