Children - Legal advice PDF Print E-mail

Legal Advice for Children      

Here you can find out more about the law in any of the following situations. For example, what are your rights at school, or what are your rights if you have broken the law? These are just general outlines.

Please contact us if you have any questions, or require more assistance.

Dr  Ann Skelton
Tel:  +27 12 420 4502
Fax: +27 12 420 4499
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Breaking the Law

You need to remember that if you are in trouble with the law that you still have the right to be treated fairly and with respect. This includes being given the opportunity to get your life back on track, and to make the wrong that you have done right. The first offence may result in a reprimand, warning, diversion or charge.

Your rights include:

  • Not being tortured or, punished in a cruel inhumane way; and no person under the age of 18 may be given the death penalty or life imprisonment without possible release. But in South Africa there is no death penalty anymore.
  • Not being detained or imprisoned without good reason.
  • Should you be put in prison you must be treated with dignity and respect, you must be kept separate from adults, and your privacy must be respected.
  • You should be kept in prison for the shortest possible time. This means that you should be allowed legal help as soon after arrest as possible, and given a fair trial in court, if you are charged.

You need to also remember that you have the right to be seen as innocent until you have been proven guilty. You cannot be forced to speak in court, or forced to say that you are guilty. You are also allowed to question people who give evidence against you, call a person to give evidence on your behalf, and have everything that is said in court explained to you in a language that you understand.

This is a very brief overview of your rights when in trouble with the law.

Protection from Abuse     

You have a right to be protected from any kind of abuse, from anyone who might try to hurt you physically or emotionally.

This includes being protected from exploitation – for example where you are forced to work for little or no money.

You should also be protected from any sort of sexual abuse. This includes watching pornographic material, being forced to take part in a sexual act (like being touched in a place you don’t want to be touched, or being asked to touch someone else), being forced to have sex with someone else, or even being forced to become a prostitute.

This could be caused by someone you know very well. But it is still not right. It is okay to say no, and it is better to tell someone you can trust, as soon as possible. Remember, that you are not to blame.

 

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Latest News

10 July 2018

Press Statement: Centre for Child Law responds to the article on IOL titled "Abused, Orphaned Children go Hungry after R7M 'disappears'" dated 8 July 2018

The Centre is gravely concerned about the conditions reported on in the IOL article dated 8 July 2018 regarding the treatment of the children housed at Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC).

This is not the first CYCC to have sub-standard care, the Centre has in the past intervened on behalf of children who were in CYCCs with similar or worse problems and it is disheartening to see children who are already traumatised by the situations that led to them being removed from their parental or family environment, being failed by those tasked to protect them.

For more see the press statement:

Press Statement

 

9 July 2018

Press Statement: Child Marriage

The Centre notes with concern the report from the Commission for Gender Equality ("CGE") given at Parliament on Wednesday, stating that approximately 91 000 children of school-going-age are married.

The Centre is extremely concerned about the increasing incidence of child marriage in the country and the impact that this has on children and children's rights. Child marriage denies the rights of children and subjects them to a multitude of abuses.

The married child is often prevented from returning to school due to the commonly held view that schooling interferes with the child's duty as a "wife". Further, child marriage is likely to cause life-long trauma to children; particularly as children are removed from their family and peers and as stated by the CGE, required to "perform a wife's duties".

For more see the press statement:

Press Statement

Centre for Child Law