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Youth Rights 101, Part 1: What IS Youth Rights?

Written by Katrina Moncure Feb 08, 2012

This is part of the Youth Rights 101 series. Please check out Youth Rights 101: Introduction for the rest of the series and more information.

What IS Youth Rights anyway?

Youth rights is a very broad term referring to the civil rights and freedoms of young people.

This may include specific rights and liberties such as:
-voting rights
-freedom of speech
-reduction/elimination of age restrictions
-religious freedom
-educational choice
-access to information
-freedom to travel and assemble
-privacy rights
-medical rights
-freedom from coercive and violent parenting
-greater ability to leave an abusive home or school
-economic rights
-and countless others.

It also may include raising the standard of treatment toward young people in every day society, such as:
-treating youth with as much respect as an adult would be presumed entitled to
-avoiding stereotyping
-respecting their choices
-avoiding taking control over them in any way
-including youth in decision-making especially where they are directly affected
-acknowledging their concerns and opinions as legitimate
-and numerous other little ways to fix a culture that deems it acceptable to treat young people as lesser.

Youth rights is the idea that youth are to be seen as separate individuals on their own, and not merely the charges of their parents and schools. It is acknowledging young people are just as much a part of the real world as their elders and should be respected as such. It is about inclusion of youth in most or all aspects of society, not casting them aside as “too young”. It is that a person’s age tells you only their age and little or nothing else about this person’s abilities or maturity.

Some use the term youth rights to refer specifically to the rights of teenagers and young adults (roughly ages 13 to 30), while others include children in that definition as well, whether for all issues or just some.

What does “youth rights” mean to you? Tell us in the comments!

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