The founding members of the National Child Rights Alliance wrote a Youth Bill of Rights which was re-drafted in 1995 at the first Youth Summit. It is the document that unifies all members despite diverse backgrounds and beliefs. They believe that civil and human rights apply to all people – including children and youth, and they work to establish and defend these rights for children.
The Right to Liberty:
No youth or child shall be forced to live in any household against his or her will – this includes biologic as well as foster and adoptive families. No person shall be forced into marriage. No child or youth shall be institutionalized against her or his will without due process rights. The right to freedom from forced institutionalization includes the right to freedom from military conscription.
The Right to Safety:
All young people shall have the right to safe haven on request, without fear of criminal charges. We support sanctuary for youth.
The Right to Survival:
All youth shall have the right to adequate food, shelter, medical care and a healthy environment. We support a free national health care system for children which is not dependent on parental income nor parental permission. We support full employment and living wage rights for workers, and a guaranteed income for those unable to work, so that families need not be torn apart by poverty. Pay differentials based on age shall be abolished. All young persons shall have the right to emergency services including welfare services regardless of the status of their guardians.
The Right to Education:
All youth shall have the right to a free education – including college and technical schools – at public expense. Programs must be free of cultural, racial or gender bias in all respects.
The Right of Free Speech:
All young people shall have the right of free speech. This includes both in personal expression and in school-based and public media.
The Right of Non-Discrimination:
We support all efforts to end curtailment of the potential and self-esteem of any youth. No child shall be discriminated against on the basis of age, race, gender, language, country of origin, economic or marital status of parents, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or physical or mental limitations or differences.
The Right of Free Choice:
No youth or child shall be either forced or forbidden to choose a religious or political affiliation, philosophy or creed.
The Right to an Attorney:
All young persons shall have the right to legal representation whereby attorneys act as an attorney for – rather than guardian of – their clients.
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