All children and young people up to the age of 18 years have rights under law.
The UK agreed to follow the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 16 December 1991. This means the UK government now has to make sure that every child has all the rights outlined in the convention except in those areas where the government has entered a specific reservation. In 2000 Oxfordshire County Council signed up.
All children and young people up to the age of 18 years have all the rights in the Convention. Some groups of children and young people – for example those living away from home, and young disabled people – have additional rights to make sure they are treated fairly and their needs are met.
Summary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
1. Applies to everyone under 18
Children and young people have the right to:
2. all these rights without discrimination, and protection against discrimination
3. have their best interests given the most importance when adults make decisions about them
4. have their rights made a reality by the government
5. be given guidance by their parents and family
7. a name and nationality
8. an identity, protected by the state
9. live with their parents unless this is bad for them, and maintain contact if separated
10. leave any country and go into their own country to be with their parents
11. be protected from being kidnapped and taken out of the country
12. say what they think and be listened to by adults when adults make decisions that affect them
13. get information and express what they think, unless it is against other people’s rights
14. think what they like and have what religion they want, with their parents’ guidance
15. meet with others and join or set up clubs, unless it is against other people’s rights
16. protection from interference with privacy, family, home and correspondence
17. get information. Information on media such as radio, newspapers, books, TV, etc. should be useful to them and not harmful
18. be brought up by their parents if possible, supported by the state
19. protection from being hurt, violence, abuse and neglect
20. special care and protection if they can’t live with their parents, taking into account their cultural background
21. be adopted only in their best interests, with all necessary safeguards
22. special protection and help if they are refugees
23. special care and education to help disabled children develop and lead a full life
24. the best health possible and to medical care
25. have their placements checked regularly if they have to be looked after away from home
26. help from the government if they are poor or in need.
27. a good enough standard of living for them to develop properly
29. education which tries to develop their personality and abilities as much as possible and encourages them to respect other people’s rights and values
30. use their own language and practise their own culture and religion
31. play and free time
32. protection from work that is bad for their health or education
33. be protected from taking, making and selling dangerous drugs
34. be protected from sexual abuse
35. not be kidnapped or sold
36. protection from any other kind of exploitation
37. not be punished in a cruel way or tortured. Not to be put in prison with adults
38. not be in an army or fight in a war before they are 15, and to protection if affected by war
39. help if they have been hurt, neglected or badly treated
40. help in defending themselves, and to have their age taken into account, if accused of breaking the law
41. any rights in laws in their own country or internationally which give better rights than these.
42. Everybody should know about the rights in this Convention, adults and children, and the government should tell people about them.
Articles 43-54 are about how governments and international organisations will work to give children their rights.
Downloads – UNCRC Leaflet
Find out more about the different rights you have.