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What are some legal rights of children?

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Quick Answer

Although state laws may vary, as of 2015, children under 18 have the right to an education, health care and a physically and emotionally safe environment, according to FindLaw. Minors possess Constitutional rights to due process under the law, and equal protection that prohibits discrimination based on gender, religion, race or disability. The Disabilities Education Act guarantees children with disabilities the right to accommodations that assure them of the same education their peers receive.

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Full Answer

As children grow, they typically gain more legal rights, states FindLaw. The Fair Labor Standards Act and various state laws grant teenagers the right to work once they reach a specific age, although their hours are usually limited. Older, more mature students gain more legal latitude in educational settings. The criminal justice system treats older children more like adults, with corresponding rights and responsibilities. Emancipated children acquire the same legal standing as an independent adult, but this requires the approval of a court.

Common rights withheld from minors include the right to vote, choose medical treatment, own property and engage in legal actions such as lawsuits and contracts, explains FindLaw. Depending on applicable statutes, parents or guardians may endorse a child's ability to gain some of these rights. Prior to 1984, some states that didn't recognize emancipation until the age of 21 allowed minors to purchase and possess alcohol, but the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 raised the minimum age to 21 in all states, notes the Alcohol Policy Information System.

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