You might think that young people are not entitled to any rights. This is wrong and every young person should expect to be treated fairly and live in a safe and non-threatening environment.
Your parents or carers should make sure you grow up with all the love and support you need to get on in life. Your school should do all they can to ensure that you have a good education and school life. If you have a job, even a Saturday job your employee should provide you with safe and hazed free working conditions and acceptable working hours.
However, some young people feel they have no control at home, school or work.
To help young people under the age of 18 achieve the rights they deserve the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child came into force in 1990.
The Convention is not a law but sets out standards which ensure;
- all rights apply to all young people without exception
- the best interests of all young people must be of primary concern
- the views of young people must be taken into account
The rights relate to all aspects of a young persons life including living, education, health, environment, protection, separation and work.
It is up to each individual country if they want to adopt the Convention. Internationally, 197 countries have now agreed to do so, including the UK. Since 1992 any UK laws, policies and practices which may affect young people have been set against the standards covered by the Convention.
This means you do have rights, a right to play, rest and leisure and a right to be free from all forms of violence. You also have the right to express your views and have them taken into account on all matters that affect you.
Who can help?
The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) aims to improve the lives and status of all young people through the fullest implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. You can find out more about CARE and the UN Convention at www.crae.org.uk/
National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) provides independent representation and advice, ensuring that the voice of children and young people can be heard in all matters affecting them. To find out more visit www.nyas.net/.
You can find out more about the laws surrounding Child Employment on the teachernet website.
ChildLine is a free 24-hour helpline for children and young people in distress or danger. You can call 0800 1111 about any problem or visit their website at www.childline.org.uk/.