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Young people's rights

This information applies to Scotland

About this information

This information covers the general rights of children and young people. You can also find information about particular rights elsewhere on this website.

For information about education and employment, see Young people and employment.
For information about family, see Young people and family.
For information about health, see Young people - health and personal.
For information about housing, see Young people and housing.
For information about the law and young people, see Young people and the law.
For information about money, see Young people and money.
For information about benefits and young people, see Young people and benefits.
For information about travel and transport and young people, see Young people - travel and transport.

Proof of age

There are many schemes that provide cards to help prove your age. Many local authorities and local colleges run card schemes. There are special rules for alcohol and tobacco.

Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS)

There is a national proof of age accreditation scheme called the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS). Make sure that any proof of age card you get shows the PASS hologram. This means it meets the PASS criteria. For more information, go to the PASS website at www.pass-scheme.org.uk.

Combined local authority/Young Scot card

Dialogue Youth is a Scottish Government funded project. One of the key products of this project is the development of a multi-purpose proof of age card for use by young people aged 12 to 18.

Although the cards are being developed differently in each local authority area and are called different names, they all include a photograph and a PASS (Proof of Age Standards Scheme) hologram. This enables you to use the card as proof of age to purchase age-restricted goods and services.

In addition to the proof of age element, the cards will also enable you to access many local authority services, for example, leisure facilities, library and school meal/cashless catering services. You can also use the card to access Young Scot local, national and international services and discounts.

You can check whether the combined local authority/Young Scot card is available in your area by checking the local pages of the Young Scot Website – www.youngscot.org.

Proof of age for buying alcohol and tobacco

EEA countries

European Economic Area (EEA) countries include all those in the EU plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. To check which countries are members of the European Union, see the Europa website www.europa.eu

The acceptable forms of identification giving proof of age for alcohol and tobacco are:

  • a passport
  • an EU photocard driving licence
  • a defence identity card issued by the Ministry of Defence
  • a photographic identity card with the national Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) hologram
  • a national identity card issued by an EEA country
  • a biometric immigration document.

Advocacy

There are many areas in your life when your views have to be sought. In many cases you may need help to express your views. The name of the person who can help you to do this is an advocate. An advocate helps to explain what you are thinking. Advocacy services have been developing in Scotland. If you need to understand better what the role of an advocate is and how to get the services of one there is a lot of information on the website of the Scottish Government that may be useful www.gov.scot.

Discrimination

Race discrimination

It is illegal to discriminate against anyone, including a child or young person, on the grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins. If you have suffered race discrimination, you may be able to take action against the organisation or individual responsible.

If you have suffered racial harassment, which includes verbal abuse or threats, graffiti or physical attacks, you may be able to take action.

For information, see race discrimination

Sex discrimination

It is illegal to discriminate against anyone, including a child or young person, on the grounds of sex. If you have suffered sex discrimination, you may be able to take action against the organisation or individual responsible.

For information, see sex discrimination

Disability discrimination

It is illegal to discriminate against anyone, including a child or young person, because you are disabled. If you have suffered disability discrimination, you may be able to take action against the organisation or individual responsible.

For information, see disability discrimination

Discrimination because of sexuality

It is illegal to discriminate against anyone, including a child or young person, on the grounds of their sexuality. You may be able to take action against the organisation or individual responsible.

For information, see sexual orientation discrimination

Discrimination because of religion or belief

It is illegal to discriminate against anyone, including a child or young person, on the grounds of religion or belief. You may be able to take action against the organisation or individual responsible.

For information, see religion or belief discrimination

Human rights

All citizens in Scotland have rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. For example, a child or young person has a right to freedom of thought, conscience or religion. If you think that your human rights are being infringed, you could take action in the Scottish courts.

Parent or carer facing imprisonment

If your parent or the person who cares for you may be sent to prison. you may be able to make sure that the court considers your rights when sentencing them. You should contact an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

Nationality and immigration

The law relating to nationality and immigration is complex. You should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

More information about immigration.

Punishment

If you are a child or young person and feel that you have experienced an inappropriate punishment from a parent or other person, you could report them to the police or other services.

If you are concerned about the use of punishment, you should contact an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

Parents

As a parent you have a right to decide when and how to punish your children. However, if you hit a young person under 16 and the physical punishment includes a blow to the head, shaking or the use of an implement, you may be prosecuted with assault.

School

No school is allowed to inflict corporal punishment on a pupil of any age.

A teacher can only use reasonable physical force if they do so in self-defence or if it's necessary to break up a fight between pupils or to stop a pupil endangering themself or other pupils or property.

If you are concerned about the use of punishment, you should contact an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

Religion

A parent with parental responsibilities and rights has the right to choose which religion, if any, a child or young person should follow at home or at school. A child or young person can choose a religion themself when they have sufficient understanding of the issues. A young person of 16 would normally be thought capable of understanding religious issues and choosing a religion themself. When someone under 16 chooses a religion that their parents or carers think is doing the child harm, for example, a cult, the parents can try to stop the child taking part by taking court action.

Voting and being a candidate in an election

You must be 18 or over to vote in European or UK parliamentary elections or local council elections in England and Wales. You can vote in Scottish Parliamentary elections and local government elections in Scotland if you are 16 or over. In some areas you can vote in a community council election from the age of 16 and can also be a candidate. 

The minimum age for being a candidate in local government elections or in Scottish, UK or European parliamentary elections is 18. 

More information about voting procedures.

Scottish Youth Parliament

If you are aged 14 to 25 you may be able to become a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP). Further information about the Scottish Youth Parliament’s work and election process can be obtained from:-

Scottish Youth Parliament
Rosebery House
Haymarket Terrace
Edinburgh
EH12 5EZ

Tel: 0131 313 2488
Fax: 0131 313 6800
Email: info@scottishyouthparliament.org.uk

Further help

Childline Scotland

ChildLine (Scotland)
18 Albion Street
Glasgow
G1 1LH

Tel: 0870 336 2910
Fax: 0870 336 2911
Freephone Helpline: 0800 1111
Email: scotland@childline.org.uk

Childline Scotland offers a 24-hour helpline for children and young people who are in trouble or danger and need advice, support and practical help.

Commissioner for Children and Young People

Commissioner for Children and Young People
MWB Business Exchange
9-10 St Andrew Square
Edinburgh
EH2 2AF

Tel: 0131 718 6048
Fax: 0131 718 6100
Email: cypcommissioner@btinternet.com

The Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland is an independent person appointed by the Scottish Parliament to safeguard and promote the rights of young people in Scotland.

Scottish Child Law Centre

Scottish Child Law Centre
54 East Crosscauseway
Edinburgh
EH8 9HD

Adviceline: 0131 667 6333 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-4.00pm)
Freephone (for under 21s): 0800 328 8970 (landlines) or 0300 330 1421 (mobiles)
Administration: 0131 668 4400
Email: enquiries@sclc.org.uk
Legal advice email: advice@sclc.org.uk
Website: www.sclc.org.uk

The Scottish Child Law Centre offers free advice on a wide range of issues by letter, by email, and by phone.

Clan Childlaw

Clan Childlaw Edinburgh
Norton Park
57 Albion Road
Edinburgh
EH7 5QY

Tel: 0808 129 0522 (freephone) 
Text: 07527 566682 (texts will be charged at the normal network rate)
Email: info@clanchildlaw.org
Website: www.clanchildlaw.org
Web form: www.clanchildlaw.org/contact

Clan Childlaw Glasgow
First Floor
5 Oswald Street
Glasgow
G1 4QR

Tel: 0808 129 0522 (freephone)
Text: 07527 566682 (texts will be charged at the normal network rate)
Email: info@clanchildlaw.org
Website: www.clanchildlaw.org
Web form: www.clanchildlaw.org/contact

Clan Childlaw provides free legal information by phone, email and text, on all aspects of Scots law relating to children and young people. This service is available to children and young people throughout Scotland, and to professionals working with children and young people.

Clan Childlaw also provides free legal advice and representation for children and young people in Edinburgh, Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian, and Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Clan Childlaw will confirm the availability of the service for a specific geographical area on request. They represent children and young people up to the age of 18, and up to the age of 21 if they are or have been a 'looked after' child.

For information about ‘looked after’ children, see Children who are looked after by the local authority

Young Scot Extra

Website: www.youngscotextra.org
Email: infoline@youngscot.org
InfoLine 0808 801 0338 (Mon - Fri 10am - 6pm) confidential and free on landlines and mobiles
Typetalk: 18001 0808 801 0338

Young Scot offers free and confidential advice online, by e-mail and phone or text “callback” with a time you can be contacted to 07781 484317.