Your Rights at Different Ages

Between ages 10 and 25 your rights and responsibilities change, and you can do different things at different ages
Boys on a park bench

At age 10

  • You can have your ears pierced, but your parent may have to be with you.
  • You can choose your own religion.
  • You can be convicted of a criminal offence.
  • You can be convicted of a sexual offence - including rape, if you are a boy. Girls can be prosecuted too, under other laws.

Take action: Learn about consent, and the different kinds of support available to help young people stay out of trouble.

At 12

  • You can watch a 12 or 12A film or play a 12 computer game.
  • You can be remanded into a secure unit or secure training facility for persistent offending.
  • You can be placed on an electronically monitored curfew while you're awaiting a court decision.

Take action: Learn about the risks to young people like gangs and child sexual exploitation.

At 13

  • You can have a part-time job, with some restrictions.
  • You can have an account on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter.

Take action: Learn the rules for working legally when you're a teen and get clued up on cyberbullying and online safety.

At 14

  • You can enter a pub if the landlord allows it, but you can't buy or drink alcohol, only soft drinks.
  • You can be fined for not fastening your seatbelt while in a moving car.
  • You can go to gigs and concerts in licensed venues if the venue allows (look for 14+ gigs)

Take action: Learn about independent travel, outdoor safety and personal safety.

At 15

  • You may be remanded to a prison to await trial.
  • If you are convicted of a criminal offence you can be fined and sentenced to prison time.
  • You can rent and buy a 15 category film.

Take action: Find out about VOXY, the Voice of Oxfordshire Youth.

At 16

  • You can work full time if you have left school, have a National Insurance number and the job has accredited training.
  • You can give consent and have sex.
  • You can be married or live together with a parent's permission.
  • You can be prosecuted for having sex with someone who is under 16.
  • You can apply for your own passport with a parent’s consent.
  • You can change your name.
  • You can open a current account and get a debit card.
  • You can be prosecuted for neglecting a child in your care.

Take action: Find out about sex, sexual health and contraception as well as apprenticeships and safety when job-seeking.

At 17

  • You can hold a driver’s licence and apply for a motorcycle licence.
  • You can be interviewed by the police without an appropriate adult being present.
  • A care order can no longer be made on you.
  • You can register to vote. (But you can't vote until you're 18)

Take Action: Find out about getting a job and higher education. Learn to drive.

At 18

  • You are the age of majority (i.e. you’re an adult!)
  • You can have a tattoo or body piercing.
  • You can watch an 18 film, play an 18 computer game.
  • National minimum wage entitlement increases.
  • You can vote and be called for jury service.
  • You can buy and drink alcohol in a bar.
  • You can get married, enter a civil partnership or live together without parental consent.
  • You can stand as an MP or a local Councillor.

Take Action: Exercise your right to vote. Learn about alcohol and safer drinking and learn about staying healthy and happy.

At 19

  • You are no longer classed as a child which means you will now use adult services unless you have learning difficulties or disabilities.
  • You are no longer entitled to free full-time education at school.

Take action: If you're not moving out, learn about avoiding parent trouble, and if you are leaving home, know how to avoid becoming homeless.

At 20

  • When young parents are over 20 at the start of their course they are no longer eligible for Care to Learn.
  • You are no longer able to access most services for young people unless special circumstances apply, for example you have learning difficulties or disabilities or are in care.

Take action: Learn about support available for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities, young parents or looked after young people (care).

At 21

  • You can drive certain kinds of larger vehicles, like lorries or buses (with the appropriate license).
  • You are now entitled to full national minimum wage.
  • You can apply to adopt a child (there is no upper age limit).
  • You can get certain types of jobs, e.g. become a driving instructor.
  • You can apply for a license to fly commercial transport aeroplanes, helicopters, gyroplanes and airships.
  • You can go into 21+ venues (some pubs, clubs and bars).

Take Action: Learn about how finding a job can be different from building a career - and why you need to be able to do both.

At 22

  • Support ends for young people who have been in Local Authority Care (Care Leavers) unless they are going into Higher Education.

Take Action: Find out more about Education for Children in Care.

At 23

  • You are entitled to the National Living Wage (if you are not in the first year of an apprenticeship).

At 25

  • Some benefit entitlements change.
  • Support ends for young people who have been in Local Authority Care who went on into Higher Education.
  • Young people with learning difficulties and disabilities no longer get support from young people's services.

Crucial: You might well be asked to prove how old you are for some of these things. You can prove your age with a passport, driving license, or Proof of Age Card.

Find out more

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