Young People’s Rights

In this article, child means someone under the age of 14 , and young person means someone aged 14 or over but under 18. Parent means someone with responsibility for parenting. 

The proof of age

To help prove your age, there are several schemes that include cards. Card schemes are run by many local authorities and local colleges. 

The National Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) does not itself issue cards, but sets standards and other schemes are accepted. If a card has a PASS hologram, it indicates that the issuer of the card has followed strict PASS requirements and that it is possible to depend on the card. Make sure that the PASS hologram is displayed with every proof of age card you get. Go to the PASS website at: www.pass-scheme.org.uk for more information and for details of accepted schemes. 

Discrimination

Discriminating against someone, including a child or young person, is against the law because of: 

  • Age, gender, racial or national origin, colour, nationality 
  • Sexual impairment, religion or belief in sexual orientation 
  • Reassignment by gender 
  • Civil marriage or alliance 
  • Breastfeeding or maternity leave 

Many of the areas where prejudice against you is covered include: 

  • schools and colleges 
  • Work
  • shops 
  • clubs and pubs 
  • hospitals and clinics 
  • council facilities 

If you are buying something or even getting it for free, you are safe from discrimination. 

There are exceptions to these laws under certain cases, meaning that discrimination is permitted. 

You will be entitled to take action against the organization or individual liable if you have encountered discrimination. 

Nationality as well as immigration 

The law on nationality and immigration is complex and, for example, at Citizens Advice, you can seek the support of an experienced advisor. Find your nearest Citizens’ Advice service. 

Private Documents 

You have the right to see information kept about you at any age, unless the person who cares for the data finds you unable to understand the essence of the request you make. You may appeal to the Information Commissioner if you are denied access to your documents. 

As a parent, you do not generally have the right to see details stored on a database record about your kids. This will be permitted only if: 

The data controller recognizes that the child has approved the request or the request is made on behalf of a child or young person who is deemed unable to understand the essence of the request. 

See the website of the Information Commissioner’s Office for more information on access to personal records. 

Smacking and other punishment by corporals 

In Care of Parents

As a parent, whether it is a ‘fair punishment’ – find out more from Child Law Advice – you don’t have the legal right to slap your child. 

You can be charged for abuse or the child can be taken into local authority care if the violence you use is serious enough to leave a mark, such as a scrape or a bruise. 

In School

No teacher is permitted to impose corporal punishment on a pupil of any age in a school. No teacher in a grant-aided school is permitted to impose corporal punishment on a pupil of any age in Northern Ireland. 

For inappropriate actions or behaviour, the head teacher and teachers may use appropriate non-physical means to discipline a student. Any discipline must be rational, logical and within the policy of the school. Additional tasks during school hours or being told off are forms of fair punishment. 

A staff member can use appropriate physical force to break up a battle between students or to prevent students from endangering themselves, other students or school property, or to prevent a student from committing a criminal offense. 

In treatment and other institutions 

Any infant or young person living in a children’s home, secure facility, foster home funded by the local authority or charitable agency, residential care home or young offender institution must not be subject to corporal punishment. Mild smacking is tolerated if a child or young person lives in a private foster home, nursing or mental nursing home, or youth recovery facility, as long as it does not leave a mark. 

You should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at Citizens Advice, if you are worried about the use of retribution. Find your nearest Citizens’ Advice service. 

Licensed babysitters 

A licensed child minder is not permitted to slap a child in their custody in England and Wales. In Northern Ireland, where child-minder smacking is not forbidden, parents must have accepted that child-minder is permitted to apply this punishment to their particular child and that the use of physical force must be a final resort. 

You should seek the guidance of an experienced advisor, for example, Citizens Advice, if you are worried about the use of retribution. Find your nearest Citizens’ Advice service. 

Religion

At home and school, parents have the right to choose if their child practices a religion, and, if so, which one. However, if they have adequate understanding, a child or young person can choose their own religion. A court could be asked to interfere if a parent finds the chosen religion of the child to be harmful. 

There is a general obligation for the provision of religious education in schools, although it is possible to exclude an individual child from religious education. 

Additional Aid

  • Childline

    Childline Helpline: 0800 1111 (24 hour free advice line) 

    www.childline.org.uk 

    Children and young people, if they need advice or are in trouble or risk, should ring or write in confidence. Both counseling and practical assistance can be given by Childline. 

  • The Children's Commissioner's Office for England

    33 Greycoat Street, London, SW1P 2QF

    020 7783 8330

    info.request@childrenscommissioner.gsi.gov.uk 

    www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk 

    The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England takes care of the needs of children and young people and serves as an impartial voice for them. 

  • National Association for Prevention of Children's Cruelty (NSPCC)

    42 Curtain Road, London ,EC2A 3NH

    020 7825 2500 

    0808 800 5000 (24 hour free advice line) 

    Email address: help@nspcc.org.uk 

    Website: www.nspcc.org.uk 

    The NSPCC provides guidance, data and assistance. 

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