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


Posted by Trey
Posted ago

What about when you turn 11

Posted by Jeremy Day
Posted ago

Hi Trey, in Oxfordshire, you can do paid work when you are 11 - but you must follow rules about how long and what kind of work, it must not get in the way of your education, and you must get a work permit from the council. Anyone who gives you a job needs to know all the rules about employing children.

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