A seventeen year old is ...
A 'child' to be protected, if fighting for his country.
A 'man' if being sodomised.
A 'child' if engaging in prostitution. As the Association of Chief Police Officers point out "The Children’s Act makes it clear that young people are children if seventeen years or under".
A full adult capable of voting (but not of taking on any other adult responsibilities such as being imprisoned with adults if convicted of a crime, supporting oneself etc).
A child to be protected from the dreadful consequences of smoking.
I think there's some kind of pattern here. I just can't quite work out what it is.
UPDATE - and you can be a "youth" if you're 25 ! There was a time in our history when you could be a General at that age.
In 2003, Mr Westbury, who is based at Aberystwyth, received an award from then Home Secretary David Blunkett for his work in the community.
But he said he felt compelled to resign following the council's decision.
"This is a recipe for disaster," said Mr Westbury.
"A youth club is just that - a club for young people. There's a case for a club for 16-20-year-olds, but not those aged up to 25.
"I feel that people aged up to 25 would have a negative influence on impressionable younger people.