As a child or young person you have rights. In England and Wales there is a law called the Children's Act, which says that professionals have a responsibility for your safety. This includes children's social care services, the police, teachers and health workers. Adults and organisations that work with children and young people should promote these rights.

What are your rights?

You have the right to:

  • Say what you think and feel, be listened to and taken seriously
  • An education
  • A good enough standard of living including somewhere to live, food to eat and clothes to keep you warm
  • Not to be discriminated against
  • Be protected from abuse, violence, bullying and harm
  • Have your cultural background and identity valued
  • Have your best interests put first when decisions are being made about you

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most rapidly and widely ratified international human rights treaty in history. It has changed the way children are viewed and treated. 

At what age can you...?

As you develop your ability to make decisions and keep yourself safe are constantly evolving. See below to learn how your rights and accountability change as you grow:

At 10

You can:

  • Be convicted of a criminal offence
  • Be convicted of a sexual offence (if you are a boy)

At 12

You can:

  • Be remanded into a secure unit for persistent offending
  • Be sentenced to a secure training centre for persistent offending
  • Be placed on an electronically monitored curfew while you're awaiting a court decision

At 13

You can:

  • Have a part-time job, up to 5 hours a day on a Saturday or during the holidays

At 14

You can:

  • Enter a pub and buy soft drinks but you can't buy or drink alcohol

At 15

You can:

  • Be held in a remand centre or prison to await trial
  • Be fined up to £1,000 and sentenced to detention if you are convicted of a criminal offence

At 16

You can:

  • Leave school once you have completed Year 11 but you must continue in learning until you are 18
  • Consent to having sex
  • Be married or live with a friend or partner with a parent's permission
  • Be prosecuted for having sex with someone who is under 16
  • Apply for your own passport with a parent’s permission
  • Have a Personal Adviser to help you move into adulthood if you have been in care

At 18

You can:

  • Buy and drink alcohol in a bar
  • Buy cigarettes and tobacco
  • Get a tattoo
  • Buy fireworks 
  • Marry or register a civil partnership without a parent's permission
  • Buy a house or apply for a mortgage
  • Vote

Proof of age

You can apply for a Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) card for under 12s, 12-15s, 16-18s and over 18s.


Last updated: 01 February 2021 13:22:56

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