Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sister's Keeper - Juvenile Rights

As a child, what legal rights do you have? What can your parents, teachers, government do and not do?

Do you remember being a teenager and being furious that no one would just let you do what you wanted to do? (And, do you remember when you moved out and the toilet plugged up for the first time, wishing your parents were there to fix it?)

So, what sorts of things do you think juveniles should be allowed to do? To not do? What decisions should they make or not make?

Some of the Hot Button topics involve the age of consent. One of my favorite lines from Bye Bye Birdie was when the teenie-bopper girl tells Conrad Birdie that she knows a lot of grown-up words, including "Jail Bait" (obviously having no idea what it means.)

Can you tell your kids what to wear or not wear? Or what to say or not say?

Can you tell your child what religion to believe? How about eating? Can you tell your child that they must or cannot be a vegetarian?

How about health issues. Can you force your child to give a blood sample? (How many other parents out there remember holding down their hysterically screaming child for a blood sample? -C'mon, he was four and he had a severe medical condition. It was necessary...)

Being a parent just isn't as easy as it's made out to be. I joke with my nieces and nephews about issues being covered "on page 48 of the Parents' Manual" - but we just don't get a Parents' Manual. As parents, we're mostly winging it.

So, how do you decide what's right for your child? And, when do you start letting them make their own decisions, even if you don't agree? Is it an age thing? Is it "level of importance" thing? ("I don't like fish sticks! I won't eat them!") Have you ever found yourself changing your mind on a decision you've already made for your child, based on their argument/discussion/pleading?

Here are some lists of rights that juveniles have in the justice system:

Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center (This looks like what you get after you've been incarcerated)

Youth Faces the Law: A Juvenile Rights Handbook This is a 96 page PDF of a pretty amazing document created by the Multnomah Bar Association Young Lawyer's Section. This is worth downloading just to look at the Table of Contents. One quote especially is chilling:

"In general, the law does not interfere with family matters. The law recognizes that your parent or guardian is in charge of you and expects you to live with them and obey them until you are 18 or become emancipated." (page 18)

Nevada's Juvenile Justice information

A Las Vegas Review Journal article about the constitutional rights of juveniles

A nice discussion of Children's Rights

No comments: