Guide to Youth Law
Juvenile Law addresses laws, rules, regulations and the like, with regard to individuals under the age of majority, which is generally considered 18 years of age, although in some instances, this is 21 years of age. In addition to juvenile crime, juvenile delinquents, and juvenile court, this area of law also often deals with foster care and adoption; child support, custody and visitation; parental rights; treatment and care for disabled and mentally ill minors, child neglect and abuse, and other related issues.
Juvenile law is also concerned with child labor laws, under-age drinking and smoking, teen pregnancy, abortion laws for minors, marital consent, school attendance, legal name change, sexual abuse and statutory rape, and emancipation of a minor. It also sets individual state limits for parental liability. This helps to determine how responsible a parent or guardian is for damage caused by a minor due to criminal or negligent behavior by the juvenile. In most states the parent is obligated to pay for willful or malicious property damage and/or personal injury caused by their child.
The use of a next friend or guardian ad litem is often necessary in juvenile law. A next friend is necessary when a minor wishes to bring a court action; this can be a parent or guardian, or other responsible adult. A guardian ad litem is appointed by a court in a legal proceeding directly affecting a minor to protect and manage the child’s best interest. In many states, a guardian ad litem may also be used in child custody cases, even though the child is not an actual party to the case. The guardian can be a parent, relative or a, lawyer, but when it is not a lawyer, the child is often represented by both the guardian and an attorney.
Juvenile law is often handled with specialized courts of law called juvenile courts. Although they deal primarily with juvenile crime law, these courts also hear cases regarding abused, abandoned or neglected children. These are called juvenile dependency cases and may result in the child being removed from the home where they are being mistreated.
For additional information regarding laws regulating juvenile justice and crimes, visit our Juvenile Crime Law page.
For additional information regarding laws regulating children's rights, visit our Children’s Rights page.
Know Your Rights!
Juvenile Law - US
- ABA - Center on Children and the Law
The Center on Children and the Law, a program of the Young Lawyers Division, aims to improve children's lives through advances in law, justice, knowledge, practice and public policy.
- Center for HIV Law and Policy - Youth Rights
With nearly 5000 youth receiving HIV diagnoses each year in the United States, efforts to ensure the rights of HIV-positive youth, as well as to prevent transmission and ensure their access to high-quality care and services, are a critical component of HIV advocacy. To reach those most affected and at risk, this advocacy must focus on the needs of the most vulnerable youth, such as minority youth—who are disproportionately affected by HIV—and LGBTQ youth, who too frequently are treated as invisible in clinical and school-based sexual health services and education.
- Century Council - Underage Drinking and Teen Drinking Prevention
The Century Council fully supports the minimum drinking age law and has worked across the nation to restrict access to alcohol for those under the age of 21. We support laws that prohibit possession, consumption, purchase and attempts to purchase alcohol among people under the minimum drinking age. We also support penalties for fake IDs and laws that punish adults who illegally provide alcohol to underage persons.
- Department of Labor - Youth Rules
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division published a Final Rule designed to protect working children from hazards in the workplace while also recognizing the value of safe work to children and their families.
- DOL - Youth and Labor
The Department of Labor is the sole federal agency that monitors child labor and enforces child labor laws. The most sweeping federal law that restricts the employment and abuse of child workers is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - Youth@Work
Welcome to Youth@Work, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) website for youth in the workforce. The EEOC's goal is to eliminate illegal discrimination from the workplace for all workers.
- National Abortion Foundation - Teenage Women, Abortion, and the Law
Four in every five Americans begin having intercourse before age 20. Many of the youngest women in this group (70% of those age 13 or under) report having had sex forced on them. By the time they turn 20, about 40% of American women have been pregnant at least once. Many of these young women have little understanding of their bodies and have begun having sexual intercourse before knowing about ways to prevent pregnancy.
- OSHA - Young Workers Safety
This site provides safety and health information for young workers and others. It answers questions often asked by the working teen. Details about workers' rights and links to training and other educational tools may also be found here. You can look over your State's youth employment laws.
- State Compulsory School Attendance Laws
The term compulsory attendance refers to state legislative mandates for attendance in public schools (or authorized alternatives) by children within certain age ranges for specific periods of time within the year. Components of compulsory attendance laws include admission and exit ages, length of the school year, enrollment requirements, alternatives, waivers and exemptions, enforcement, and truancy provisions.
- State Teen Driving and Insurance Laws
Graduated drivers license systems in the United States are designed to give young drivers the opportunity to practice driving with various restrictions in place. With traffic accidents being the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States, graduated licensing programs have been designed to reduce teen accidents and fatalities.
- State Teen Marriage Law
In the United States, all but one state requires that a couple be 18 in order to marry without parental permission. Nebraska sets the age of majority at 19. Although a few states will waive this requirement if there is a pregnancy, the couple may still have to have court approval.
Organizations Related to Juvenile Law
- Advocates for Youth
Established in 1980 as the Center for Population Options, Advocates for Youth champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health. Advocates focuses its work on young people ages 14-25 in the U.S. and around the globe.
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
Child Welfare Information Gateway connects child welfare and related professionals to comprehensive information and resources to help protect children and strengthen families. We feature the latest on topics from prevention to permanency, including child abuse and neglect, foster care, and adoption.
- Focus Adolescent Services
Our mission is to provide information and resources to empower individuals to help their teens and heal their families. Through education, self-awareness, self-help, and personal responsibility, families can rebuild their relationships and reconnect in positive and loving ways. The free availability of the Focus website reflects our commitment to disseminate knowledge to the widest possible audience. For over a decade, Focus Adolescent Services has adhered to this mission, helping to save youth and families.
- Healthy Teen Network
Healthy Teen Network is devoted to making a difference in the lives of teens and young families. We are a national organization focused on adolescent health and well-being with an emphasis on teen pregnancy prevention, teen pregnancy, and teen parenting.
- Juvenile Law Center
Juvenile Law Center is the oldest non-profit, public interest law firm for children in the United States. Founded in 1975 by four new graduates of Temple Law School in Philadelphia, Juvenile Law Center has become a national advocate for children’s rights, working across the country to enforce and promote the rights and well-being of children who come into contact with the justice, child welfare and other public systems.
- National Center for Drug Free Sport
The National Center for Drug Free Sport, Inc.® (Drug Free Sport™) is the premier provider of drug testing services, drug screening policies and drug education programs in sport.
- National Center for School Engagement
The National Center for School Engagement was established based on over a decade of educational research conducted by Colorado Foundation for Families and Children. NCSE has generated many resources about school attendance, attachment, and achievement . NCSE provides training and technical assistance, research and evaluation to school districts, law enforcement agencies, courts, as well as state and federal agencies -- to name a few.
- National Center for Youth Law (NCYL)
The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) uses the law to improve the lives of poor children. NCYL works to ensure that low-income children have the resources, support, and opportunities they need for a healthy and productive future. Much of NCYL's work is focused on poor children who are additionally challenged by abuse and neglect, disability, or other disadvantage.
- National Youth Rights Association (NYRA)
The National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) defends the civil and human rights of young people in the United States through educating people about youth rights, empowering young people to work on their own behalf in defense of their rights, and taking positive steps to lessen the burden of ageism. We believe certain basic rights are intrinsic parts of American citizenship and transcend age or status limits.
- Partnership for Families & Children
The Partnership for Families & Children is a trusted collaborator working with funders, government agencies and other nonprofits committed to improving the lives of vulnerable children and their families. Our passion and dedication, combined with our ability to connect resources, enhances our partner’s ability to affect change and achieve greater social impact.
Publications Related to Juvenile Law
- City Mayors - Youth Curfews in Cities
At least 500 US cities have curfews on teenage youth, including 78 of the 92 cities with a population greater than 180,000. In most of these cities, curfews prohibit children under 18 from being on the streets after 11:00 pm during the week and after midnight on weekends. About 100 cities also have daytime curfews to keep children off the streets during school hours. The curfews are designed to prevent crime, increase parental responsibility for their children, and give police greater ability to stop people involved in suspicious activity.
- Education World - School Issues
Every day, hundreds of thousands of students across the United States are absent from school without a legitimate excuse. Every year, cities, states, and school districts across the country announce new initiatives designed to entice, counsel, threaten, or coerce kids into attending school. Most of those programs are based on the assumption that the causes and solutions of habitual truancy lie within the family. The truants, however, disagree.
- Mayo Clinic - Teen Bullying - What Parents Need to Know
Teen bullying is often in the news. It isn't inevitable, however. Consider features of teen bullying — and practical strategies for preventing and responding to teen bullying. Perhaps you remember being bullied while you were a teenager, or watching bullies rule the school halls. Now that you're a parent, you want to make sure that your child isn't a target of teen bullying. Give your efforts greater impact by understanding the nature of teen bullying — and how you can respond.
- Troubled Teen 101
Troubled Teen 101 is presented for parents in need of teen help. We offer information on teen issues, problems, and behavior disorders. We give recommendations on programs for troubled teens, boarding schools, and other teen boot camp alternatives for teen help. We also provide details on various types of programs for teens including military schools, boot camps, and wilderness programs. Our troubled teen help reps will not recommend these short term options. We believe in promoting home based solutions and then long term options.
Articles on HG.org Related to Juvenile Law
- How Does a Minor Get Emancipated from His or Her Parents?It is an unfortunate reality of our modern age that there are times when a minor would be better off being able to conduct their own affairs free from the control of their parents. When this is the case, the minor is able, in some instances, to seek what is known as “Emancipation.”
- Who is Responsible When a Child Breaks the Law?All too often stories appear on the news of children in trouble with the law. Some bring guns or knives to school, others are shoplifting or stealing cars, and of course, there are always the ones who get into fights. Often, public outcry demands that something be done against the parents as well as the child. So, who is responsible when a child breaks the law?
- Anti-Bullying Laws in AmericaMillions of Americans experienced bullying at some point as a child. I personally experienced bullying between 5th and 8th grade when I went through a phase where I stopped growing up as much as out for a few years. Psychologically, I saw myself as a short, fat kid for years after, well into college when I was actually 6'3” tall and well built. The effects of bullying can be damaging and long lasting.
- My Ex Is Moving Away With The Children, What Can I Do?You are divorced, or were never married, but have children with your ex. You share custody or, at the very least have visitation rights. But now your ex tells you s/he is moving someplace with the kids that would make seeing your children as regularly as you would like much more difficult.
- Michigan's MIP Law Offers Deferred ProsecutionThe Michigan MIP law allows Courts to dismiss the case if the minor successfully completes a probationary period. Deferred prosecution protects the underage drinker from jail and a permanent criminal record. On the other hand, the repeat offender faces potential jail time, costly probation conditions and a mandatory license suspension.
- License Plate Decals May Limit Teen Driver Car AccidentsA study of Kyleigh's Law’s effectiveness at curbing teen driver crashes by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recently revealed surprising results: the decals are working.
- CHP Investigation of Accident Causing Brain DamageIn May, 2012 a newly licensed driver hit 8 high school students in a cross walk. It was first reported that he was travelling at 50 miles per hour or more and had been known to drive at high speed up and down the street where he lives. However the actual investigation found witnesses that said the truck was actually only going 15 miles per hour when it reached the cross walk where the high school students were hit by his truck.
- Overview of New Jersey's Juvenile Justice SystemWhat follows is a brief overview of the juvenile justice system in New Jersey. The juvenile court system in New Jersey is very different from the adult court system. In juvenile court, the defendant (a juvenile under the age of 18) has had a formal complaint signed against him or her and is being charged with "delinquency."
- Branding Young People as ‘Criminals’Children and teens convicted of crimes face the prospect of being unfairly labeled as an offender during a time period when many experts believe their brains – and their resulting actions – are still developing. People love to classify and apply labels. It’s a natural human tendency.
- Adult Charges for Juvenile Crimes? It’s Legal in the State of ColoradoIn the past month, lawmakers in the state of Colorado have vocalized concerns that too many youth are being charged as adults, and they are now trying to scale back the authority that prosecutors have in the state. Colorado prosecutors have always been able to charge juveniles as adults when they commit serious crimes because of a process called a “direct file”.
- All Family Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Family Law including: adoption, alimony, child support and custody, child visitation, collaborative law, divorce, domestic violence, elder law, juvenile crime, juvenile law, juvenile probation, paternity, pre-nuptial agreement, separation.