What is a child?

Girl on stepping stonesThe UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as everyone under 18 unless, "under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier" (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1989). The UK has ratified this convention.

However there are a number of different laws across the UK that specify age limits in different circumstances. These include child protection; age of consent; and age of criminal responsibility.

Read more about legal definitions

What the law says about children working

Information on children, employment and the law, including legislation, school-leavers, babysitting, work experience placements and apprenticeships.
Find out what the law says

Bedroom sharing and moving out

Information and guidance on children sharing bedrooms and legislation on what age a child can leave home.
Find out more

Gillick competency and Fraser guidelines

The meaning of 'Gillick competent' and 'Fraser guidelines' when deciding whether a child is mature enough to make decisions.
Read about the terms

Child protection in the UK

How the systems and laws of the UK and its 4 nations work to keep children safe from abuse and harm.
More about the child protection system

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Information Service

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References

  1. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (1989) UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations