“The 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
In the eyes of the law anyone under 18 is a child in the UK. Those of us aged under 18 have different rights and opportunities to those our senior who are classed as adults.
We cannot buy or rent a house without a trustee, hold a full-time job and are not entitled to the adult minimum wage – three things, which are to us fundamental to being classed as an independent adult. So why is it fair for under 18s to be charged as adults when we do not have the same rights and opportunities as them?
In September last year the law in England changed, requiring young people to carry on studying or learning in some capacity until the age of 18.
‘You can leave school on the last Friday in June if you’ll be 16 by the end of the summer holidays.
You must then do one of the following until you’re 18:
- stay in full-time education, eg at a college
- start an apprenticeship or traineeship
- work or volunteer (for 20 hours or more a week) while in part-time education or training’
The new system means our campaign is more relevant now than it could ever have been. It makes it harder than ever to have a full-time job until you are 18, leaving the majority of under-18s reliant on parents for housing and food. This therefore raises the question:
If under-18s haven’t got the time to earn as an adult could and are in most cases dependent on parents, why are they charged as adults?
Education is important, however so are culture, exposure to enriching experiences and family. With easy and affordable access to these things, young people have a better chance of growing up as enthusiastic, well-rounded thinkers.
Also, year 11s who are 16 (the age at which many attractions start charging adult prices) cannot get NUS cards – which can be used as student ID for ticket prices.
‘You must be 16 or over and studying in Further or Higher Education to be eligible for an NUS extra card. There is no upper age limit.’ – nus.org.uk
This means that until 16 year olds start a course beyond GCSE, they have to pay adult prices for most attractions and services.
We also believe that 16 and 17 year olds shouldn’t have to pay student prices which are often more expensive than child tickets when they are still under 18.
For those under 18 it is difficult to have real independence without parental support. Under-18s cannot apply for a mortgage or hold a tenancy without a trustee, therefore it is hard to live on their own
When under-18s aren’t offered the independence opportunity of an adult and most do not live on their own but with their family, why are they charged as adults and excluded from a family ticket?
Time to work is the not the only issue around earning money. The national minimum wage for those under 18 is lower than it is for those over 18. This means that under 18s can usually only get part-time work and even then do not have to be paid the same as an adult.
Why, then, are under-18s expected to pay the same as an adult when there is a clear distinction between the earnings opportunities of an adult and a young person.
From these arguments it is clear that the opportunities for under-18s to live as independent, fully employed, properly paid adults are limited, so we come back to the question:
Why are we treated like children but priced like adults?
This campaign is not asking to be treated like children – we can act like adults. We just want recognition of the fact that our opportunities as young people can be limited and we’d like to make sure everyone has the chance to experience more!
We need your help to change things! Join our campaign here.