Children and young people have many of the same rights as adults, for example the right to express their views, the right to be free from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to a private and family life.
Some rights, such as the right to marry and the right to vote in elections come, for obvious reasons, later in life. But by the same token, human rights law requires that some additional protections are afforded to children and young people in recognition of their potential vulnerability. For example special provision needs to be made for children who come into contact with the criminal justice system to ensure that they fully understand the process and what it means for them.
Sadly, in recent years we have seen widespread demonisation of children and young people - in media coverage, political rhetoric and legislation. This attitude reinforces divisions between the generations and damages young people's respect for law and order.
Liberty has fought against child curfews and the Mosquito youth deterrent device – both of which sweep up the innocent with the guilty. We have also campaigned to get children under 10 off the National DNA Database and campaigned against Anti Social Behaviour Orders, and the naming and shaming of children.
If we want a more respectful society we must start by respecting our young people.