Law for Under 18s

I’m still a child. I don’t need to know about the law for under 18s … or do I?

You might not have realised it before now, but lots of different areas of your life, and what happens to you, are covered by the law.

The law says

  • Who can make the big decisions about you, like where you go to school
  • When you have to start getting an education (and what happens if you don’t go to school)
  • What help and support you can get if you’re a carer for someone in your family
  • What should happen if someone hurts you or doesn’t look after you properly
  • When you can be held ‘criminally responsible’ for a something you have done that breaks the law, and what will happen to you if you are arrested
  • When you can start making decisions for yourself about going to see a doctor or taking medicine
  • Whether you can leave home and get a flat on your own before you are 18
  • Who should be making sure there are places for you to go and play or hang out with your friends – and what you can do if there isn’t anywhere for you to go.

This list is just some of the law that affects you when you’re under 18 – but there’s lots more. Nearly every part of your life is covered by the law.


The Law is Different in Wales

In Wales, the law is often different to the law in England. It’s also different to the law in Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is because the UK government has given power to the National Assembly for Wales (and to the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly) to make some of its own laws. It is also different because the Welsh Government recognises the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). You can find out more about why the law is different in this blog.

The law is especially different in lots of the areas that affect children and young people, including education, health and social care.

Make sure you are treated properly

If life is going well for you, you may not need to know what the law is, or what your ‘legal rights’ are. If things aren’t going so well for you, the law may be able to help. If you know what the law says, you can use this to make sure you are treated properly and get what you are entitled to.

Some situations when you might need to know about the law include:

How does the law affect you?

At Home

In Trouble

At School (or not)


At Work



Health & Wellbeing

Shops & Services

On the Street

The Children’s Legal Centre Wales

The Children’s Legal Centre Wales is a project to provide information for anyone who needs to know about the law in Wales and how it affects people who are under 18.

At the moment, we can’t give you advice on your specific situation but we can tell you what the law says and we can introduce you to other people and organisations that may be able to help you.

Remember that if you’re not living in Wales, the information on this website may not apply to you. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have their own children’s legal centres, so if you’re living in one of these places, you need to visit their websites for the right information about the law.