you & your rights



You can find out information about your rights throughout this guide, as well as from many of the organisations mentioned. You can also look at leaflets in York Central Library, or get more help from CAB, YES or Liberty.

The law affects us from the moment we are born. Throughout our lives it gives us various rights and responsibilities, and says what we can and can’t do.

For example, from birth you can:
have a bank account (at the bank’s discretion)

own property

give evidence in court

agree to or refuse medical treatment (including contraception) if you understand the implications of it

ask to see personal information held on computer about you (although there are certain exceptions to this)

choose your own religion

get confidential advice and counselling

carry a donor card

have a body piercing

enter a public bar with someone aged 18+, at the landlord’s discretion, if they hold a children’s certificate

smoke, but not buy, cigarettes

babysit – though the parents should assess your suitability

make a complaint about sexual or racial harassment, or a complaint against the police

you must have your own passport if you wish to travel abroad
At 5 you can:
drink alcohol in private (e.g. at home)

you are at compulsory school age

see films classified as U or PG, or 12A if an adult is with you

see your school records
At 10 you can:
be convicted of a criminal offence and be given a custodial sentence for a serious crime
At 12 you can:
buy a pet without your parent(s) being with you
At 13 you can:
get a newspaper round if by-laws allow it (York does)
At 14 you can:
go into a public bar on your own (at the landlord’s discretion) but you cannot buy or consume alcohol there

get a part-time job. There are restrictions on hours etc: e.g. you can’t work more than 2 hours on school days or Sundays
At 16 you can:
work full time if you have left school, join a trade union

from 16 you can leave school, depending on your birth date (see learning & working)

leave home (with or without your parents’ permission – only in exceptional circumstances would you need this)

have a sexual relationship (with someone else 16+)

marry with your parents’ consent

join the Armed Forces with your parents’ consent

be given an on-the-spot fine by the police

see your health and school records within certain conditions

get legal assistance in your own right

see your health records – though you can see them at any age if your GP considers you mature enough

buy cigarettes, and liqueur chocolates

buy Premium Bonds or National Lottery tickets

buy certain alcoholic drinks with a meal in restaurants (beer, cider or perry)

hold a licence to drive a moped go-ped, invalid carriage, or glider

get a National Insurance number

still receive free full-time education at school, 6th form or college

have the right to be offered a Youth Training place if not in work or full time education

claim Income Support in certain circumstances (e.g. you are in full time education and forced to live away from your parents)

sell scrap metal
At 17 you can:
hold a driving licence for a car or a motorbike (up to 125cc), pilot’s licence or private firearms licence

be tried in an adult court and sent to prison

be questioned by the police without a parent or guardian there

a care order can no longer be made against you

give blood
At 18 you are an adult in the eyes of the law and can:
leave home, marry, change your name

vote in elections

you are entitled to the minimum wage (see your rights at work)

apply for a passport without parental consent

serve on a jury, bring and defend a court action, sue, be sued

make a will and sign documents on your own behalf

have a cheque book, credit card, be liable for overdrafts, credit etc., pawn goods in a pawn shop

hold a commercial air pilot’s license

buy and drink alcohol in a bar

be tattooed

if you are adopted you can apply for a copy of your original birth certificate
At 21 you can:
become an MP or local councillor

hold a licence to sell alcohol, hold a PSV or HGV licence

adopt a child
If you would like to know more about what you can or can’t do at what age, contact YES, CAB or the Children’s Legal Centre.