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The Government Center: Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

Introduction to Knowing Your Rights and Responsibilities

Maybe the most important (and confusing!) thing to think about when you’re planning for your future is your rights. Even though it doesn’t always seem like it, minors (usually people under age 18) have rights just like adults do.

Your legal rights are sort of like the rulebook that schools, adults, and other teens have to follow whenever they interact with each other. So doesn’t it seem like a good idea to know what’s in that rulebook?

The trouble is that even though there are some legal rights that are the same in every part of the country, most of them change from state to state. For example, did you know that if you live in Nebraska, you don’t become an adult until you turn 19? Or that in some states you can’t legally drive until you’re 17 or 18, but in other states you can drive at 15?

The point is that it’s often hard to know just what your rights really are. Lots of people talk like they know everything there is to know about rights, but that’s usually not true. Because the issue of teen rights is so huge and so confusing, it’s hard to keep track of everything all at once. Even within the same state, you have rights that affect your school, your parents, your job, and so much more!

The good news is that there’s help here at The Youthhood. We have some pointers to get you started thinking about your legal rights. We also have some suggestions of where else you can go to get information.

(Adapted from Truly, T. (2002). Teen rights: A legal guide for teens and the adults in their lives. Naperville, IL: Sphinx Publishing.)

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Last updated on December 5, 2018

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