Confronting Categorical Exclusions Based on Age: The Rights of Children and Youth
Harvard Human Rights Journal
In the United States (as in any country), a significant percentage of the population has no voting rights, is prohibited from holding public office, has restricted access to employment opportunities, and is subjected to greater restrictions on their participation rights such as freedom of expression, association, and assembly. Such categorical denials of rights typically would be met with accusations of discrimination. However, because the group is children, such differential treatment is rarely questioned. Bright-line rules dividing childhood and adulthood, while advantageous for administrative reasons, fail both to recognize the full personhood of young people and account for developing nature of childhood. They also deprive communities and countries of valuable contributions from their youngest members. This article examines such bright-line distinctions, which have most commonly been drawn at 18 years old. It focuses in particular on young people’s participation rights. Evolving understandings of both children’s rights and child and adolescent development necessitate a questioning of categorical exclusions and a rethinking of the legal regulation of childhood and emerging adulthood.
Jonathan Todres, Confronting Categorical Exclusions Based on Age: The Rights of Children and Youth, 36 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 283 (2023).
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Confronting Categorical Exclusions Based on Age: The Rights of Children and Youth,
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