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The German case is interesting in this regard as well: In the early twentieth century, child abuse was referred to as "Kindermi▀handlung" (mistreatment of children). The term most commonly used now is "Kindesmi▀handlung," (child mistreatment.) From: Andrew Ruis <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: INQ: Child as "It" v. Child as "He/She" Date: February 20, 2014 7:11:56 AM PST Thanks for these responses! Emily, that's a helpful reference; it suggests that this may have been a more contested issue than I had thought. Also, I assume that this is largely an English language issue, as most other major scientific languages have gender and/or case agreement rules that make the question somewhat nonsensical. Barbara, my understanding (as a historian, not a scientist) is that "the child" is used today (and has been used for some time) as a term of art for children as a category, rather than children as a group of discreet individuals. That is, it's used precisely to avoid the tension you are interested in, to universalize rather than individualize. I believe this may also be a legal distinction, though I am less sure on that count. It's certainly common in policy literature to see "the child" rather than children. Essentially, what I am wondering is if the shift in the U.S. from children as economically valuable to children as emotionally priceless (this is Vivian Zelizer's argument, but there are many parallels) was accompanied by a linguistic shift in how children were identified grammatically. Unfortunately, Google ngram doesn't (yet) have sufficiently sophisticated parsing tags or search syntax to examine this question. -- --