Recasting Children as Autonomous Persons: Children as Future Citizens and Workers

Orna Naftali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


“Respect for the independent rights of children is the hallmark of any modern, civilized society…. From this day onward, when parents behave in a way that violates these rights, children will be able to voice their objections knowing that the law is on their side” (Cheng and Ren, 2004). So declared a top Shanghai government official following the adoption of a landmark piece of legislation designed to protect the rights of minors in one of China’s largest, most cosmopolitan cities. Shanghai’s 2004 Municipal Regulations on the Protection of Minors (Weichengnian ren baohu tiaoli) urge caregivers and teachers to respect children’s “human dignity” (renge zunyan) and individual personality, and to safeguard their “legitimate rights and interests” (hefa quanyi). These entitlements include the right to “personal privacy” (geren yinsi); to protection from “verbal abuse” (ruma) and “physical punishment” (tifa); and the right to “adequate rest and leisure time” as prescribed by children’s unique physical and psychological characteristics. At the time of their introduction, Shanghai’s Municipal Regulations on the Protection of Minors appeared innovative in both language and scope. They are nonetheless representative of a new and increasingly influential strain of discourse about children and their entitlements in post-socialist China.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationStudies in Childhood and Youth
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameStudies in Childhood and Youth
ISSN (Print)2731-6467
ISSN (Electronic)2731-6475

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Orna Naftali.


  • Autonomous Person
  • Chinese Child
  • Chinese Communist Party
  • Municipal Regulation
  • Reform Plan


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