The ways societies view children have changed a great deal over the genera-tions. Authoritarian societies tend to see minors as adults in all ways other than in their small stature. These societies presume that children assume responsibility for their acts. Children are tried as adults, jailed with them, and hanged next to them. In contrast, civilized societies treat minors as a distinct legal and moral category, as developing creatures who gradually become adults but are not; adults are expected to help children develop into mature young people able to form their own judgments.
Marjorie Heins, in her article “Rejuvenating Free Expression” (Dissent, Summer 1999), draws on the traditional view of children to advance the ...
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