The rights of children

Every kid has fundamental rights

Section 28 of the Constitution of South Africa, which highlights the rights of every SA citizen under 18, provides that:

1. Every child has the right

  • to a name and a nationality from birth;
  • to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment;
  • to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services;
  • to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation;
  • to be protected from exploitative labour practices;
  • not to be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that-
    i. are inappropriate for a person of that child’s age; or
    ii. place at risk the child’s well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development
  • not to be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under sections 12 and 35, the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be-
    i.    kept separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years; and
    ii.    treated in a manner, and kept in conditions, that take account of the child’s age
  • to have a legal practitioner assigned to the child by the state, and at state expense, in civil proceedings affecting the child, if substantial injustice would otherwise result; and
  • not to be used directly in armed conflict, and to be protected in times of armed conflict.

2. A child’s best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.


Links to useful family law acts.

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