Children and young people have rights eg. to health and welfare services and to have their views heard, like adults do. On health, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been signed by the UK government, says:
- children have the right to be as healthy as possible. If they are ill they must be given good health care to enable them to become well again
- children have the right to ‘consent to’ or ‘refuse to consent to’ dental, medical or surgical treatment if they can prove they understand what will happen as a result of their decision.
'Consent' here means agreeing to an examination or to receive certain treatment. How much you can decide for yourself depends on your age and circumstances.
If you are under 16:
- you may still be able to give consent yourself
- it is generally a good idea to involve your parents and discuss your treatment with them, as they have responsibility for your welfare.
If you are aged 16-18 you have the right to:
- make decisions about medical treatment yourself
- disagree with your parents about treatment, although they may be given the right to change your decision under some circumstances
- allow your parents or guardian to give consent on your behalf if you are having problems deciding
- choose the doctor and other medical staff who treat you
- expect doctors and medical staff not to talk about your health problems with your parents or carers unless you want them to
- see your medical records
- complain if you are not being treated properly.
Useful links include: The Children’s Legal Centre, National Youth Advocacy (England and Wales) and Young Scot.