What Does the Law Mean for Me? in Rights

We answer some of the most common questions about how the law affects young people in Scotland.

Q: Can I work in paid employment at 12-years-old?

A: The youngest age you can start any kind of paid work is 13, and you'll need to make sure to get a work permit from your local council to do so. The youngest age that you can start working full-time is 16.

Q: Can my parents open my letters?

A: We all have a right to privacy, so unless your parents have a really important reason to check your mail, they don't have a legal right to open or read your letters.

Q: Can I go to see a doctor without my parents' permission?

A: Yes, you can see a doctor at any age, but the doctor will only give you treatment if they are sure you understand what it involves. Find out more about seeing a doctor.

Q: Can I decide on what medical treatment I do and don't want?

A: Yes. If a doctor thinks you're capable of discussing and agreeing to the medical treatment they prescribe, they should discuss your options with you.

Q: Can the police ask us to move on when I'm just hanging out with my friends outside?

A: The police can ask you to move on if you're in the street. If this happens, just keep calm and do what you're asked, or you could be arrested for causing a Breach of the Peace.

However, if you feel that you've been unfairly treated by the police then take a note of the police constable's number (on their shoulder), and write to the Chief Constable of the police force concerned. 

Q: Can I see a solicitor by myself?

A: Young people over the age of 12 can see a solicitor by themselves. You may also be able to see a solicitor if you're under 12, as long as the solicitor believes you have a clear understanding of what's happening.

Q: What is the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland?

A: In Scotland, children as young as 8 can be guilty of crimes. However, until you're 16 you're likely to be referred to the children's hearing system instead of a criminal court.

Q: What is anti-social behaviour?

A: Anti-social behaviour can include graffiti, fighting, dropping litter, playing music loudly, drinking on the street, and taking drugs. You can get an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) from the age of 12.

Young Scot Law Line

24/7 Legal Advice on rights and issues affecting 11-25 year old's including: Debt Welfare Renting/Housing Employment Mental Health Family/Relationships Call free on 0808 801 0 801