Exploring age-related legislation. Youth Policy Working Paper No 4

Authors

Alex Farrow, Ellen Ehmke

Abstract

Minimum age definitions directly influence the realities of children, adolescents and young people: when they can make independent health choices, be tried and held in adult courts and prisons, access financial credit for business, be heard in judicial proceedings, or consent to marriage.

However, there is a clear lack of uniformity. This makes it more complicated to fully understand, monitor, and improve the situation for children and adolescents – not least for them as individuals attempting to understand the laws for themselves.

This paper is timed to coincide with the forthcoming “General Comment on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence”, which will advocate for considerable change for age-related legislation.

This working paper discusses the foundational principles of minimum age legislation, beginning first with the principle of non-discrimination, followed by the best interests of the child, combined alongside the notions of protection and autonomy, and lastly, respect for the views of the child and evolving capacities.

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