Nontraditional Youth Rights Issues

Freechild Institute Youth Rights Toolkit

These are issues not traditionally addressed by people who are concerned with young people. That’s slowly changing, but these are still important issues.

  1. Access—Closing the doors to specific information because its potentially dangerous or harmful is one thing; limiting access to entire websites and types of information because of age is arbitrary and cynical. Acknowledging youth have a right to learn, grow and evolve is essential to youth rights today.
  2. Age discrimination—Bias towards adults leads to discrimination against youth, which is called adultism. Adultism exists throughout society, including places made for young people. Young people have the right to live without being discriminated against because of their age.
  3. Curfews—Youth have a right to live without arbitrary confines based on time. In the presence of curfews based on age, young people cannot express themselves, take work, or fulfill their right to free movement whenever they want.
  4. Behavior modification camps—In the absence of being able to choose what is best for their own health and wellbeing, youth effectively loose all their rights. Behavior modification camps inherently discriminate against every part of a young person’s identity.
  5. Civic youth engagement—The right to vote, run for political office and campaign freely for themselves or other people belongs to all young people. Being able to complete other civic activities is a right of youth too, including volunteering and participating in community groups.
  6. Criminalization—Portraying all young people as castaways to mainstream society, the media and police often make young people into criminals by virtue of being young. Youth have the right to not be associated with crime, victims or punishment belonging to people who do.
  7. Driving age—Without arbitrary age determining ability, young people should have the freedom to drive vehicles as they are physically and mentally capable.Drinking age—Young people have the right to learn responsible drinking through moderation and education instead of limitation and separation.
  8. Economics—Youth have the freedom to earn money, save money and invest their time and energy how they choose. They should have the right to use economic institutions at their own volition, and to be represented for the taxes they pay.
  9. Education reform—The right to learn should not be sacrificed to adults who do not know how to engage young people as partners in schools. Youths have the right to transform education as equal and meaningful partners throughout the education system.
  10. Emancipation—The right to become independent of their parents for legal purposes is important for the safety, wellbeing and health of youth.
  11. Entertainment—Access to entertainment and the creation of media for themselves and other people to consume is a right all young people have. The ability to choose for themselves what they want to consume, what they want to produce and whether they want to participate should be determined by their capacity to choose, rather than their age.
  12. Juvenile Justice—Youth have the right to equal and fair treatment in the eyes of the law, whether through traditional trial by peers or restorative justice. Punishment, retribution and other consequences should reflect their personal growth and abilities, and not be generalized across all youth. 
  13. Media Representation—Being portrayed unfairly due to their age is not justice for anyone, and because of this all young people have the right to be represented fairly in the media. They should not be typecast or stereotyped because of their age, race, socio-economic status, educational level, or other perspective, either.
  14. Privacy—Youth are routinely denied their rights to personal privacy at home, at school and in public. The internet routinely discriminates against users’ privacy rights; youth are even more susceptible to the arbitrary and subjective opinions of adults. The privacy of youth should be respected in a variety of settings and a number of ways; youth rights advocates insist we pay attention to those ways.

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