What Rights Do Children Have?
Children have most, but not all, of the same rights as adults. Rights that are often at issue are the rights of minors in delinquency proceedings, due process rights in schools and privacy rights. A minor child is more vulnerable than an adult, and it is important that children have rights to protect them. In order to have protections and safeguards, it is necessary to limit some rights that adults may have in the same or similar situations. Some rights that may be limited are privacy rights and the rights of a minor child in school. Children must also be protected in the court system, such as delinquency proceedings. It is often difficult or impossible for minors to advocate for their own rights in a legal context. For this reason, advocates may be appointed by the courts to ensure that children’s rights are protected and their best interests are being looked out for.
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN IN A DELINQUENCY PROCEEDING?
In the past, children were not given many “adult” protections in the juvenile court. This has been changed in recent years, and now children have many of the same rights as adults in the adult criminal court system. In a juvenile court delinquency proceeding, minors will be afforded certain rights such as the right to notice of the charge against them, the right to confront any witnesses against them, the right not to incriminate themselves and the right to an attorney (like in criminal court, an attorney may be appointed by the court if the child cannot afford one).
WHAT ARE CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN SCHOOL?
The rights of minors in school have long been a subject of debate for lawmakers. Children have due process rights under the Constitution; however, these due process rights are not as expansive as those afford adult defendants. Children also have the right to be safe while in school. At times, the right to be safe prevails over other rights such as those regarding search and seizure and suspension.
WHAT PRIVACY RIGHTS DO CHILDREN HAVE?
Although children have privacy rights, they do not have the same rights to privacy has adults. Since children are under the care of adults, they must be safeguarded. Part of raising children and keeping them safe may take away some rights to privacy that adults have. Privacy issues often arise with medical issues. Some medical issues may include sharing a child’s medical information with his or her parents, informing parents of their underage child’s pregnancy or other health or reproductive issues. There may also be issues concerning a child’s right to medical care. For various reasons, often religious in nature, parents may deny their children access to medical care. In circumstances where a child’s life is in jeopardy, the government may intercede. Parents have a right to their religious beliefs and how to parent their children, but those rights are not superior to their children’s right to live and be saved by medical care (if possible).
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