Do Teens have rights? Indeed they do!!!

atomikmom 2010/10/06 04:19:16
Related Topics: Student, Prom, New York Times
Teens are human just like Adults
Teens are the future adults of America
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Teen Rights

* Level:
* Grades 6 to 8
* Grades 9 to 12

* Subject:
* Reading and Language Arts
* Social Studies

Adolescence is a time of great transition, partway between childhood and adulthood. While definitely not children anymore, teenagers are also not considered adults and therefore don’t often have the rights that many adults have. This can lead to struggles for many adolescents. All too often, teens who don’t seem to fit in with the mainstream can find their rights being violated.

In this lesson, students will explore what teen rights actually are. They will also read about some recent cases where teens felt their rights were violated. Students will debate the nature of rights and will discuss what they believe are appropriate rights for teens.

Professional Development

* Identifying and Responding to Bias Incidents Teachers and students need to be prepared to deal with bias incidents at their schools, which often violate teen rights.
* A Contract on Bullying has students exploring one common violation of teen rights: bullying.
* Anti-Gay Discrimination in Schools provides further information about the struggles of some LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) students.


Activities will help students:

* define the idea of teen rights
* become familiar with human rights violations toward teens
* explore ways to responsibly promote and encourage teen rights

Essential Questions

* What are teen rights?
* What should teens be allowed to decide or do for themselves?
* How can adolescents promote teen rights in a positive way?


rights | rahyts |
(noun) the individual freedom to do something (or not to do something)

violate | vahy-uh-leyt |
(verb) to break (as in rules)

Additional Resources


American Civil Liberties Union


1. (Write the following words on the board: Life, Liberty, Happiness.) Work with a partner to discuss the following questions:

a) What do the words “life, liberty, and happiness” usually represent? (If students struggle, lead them to the answer that many people consider these to be basic human rights.)

b) Are there any other human rights?

c) Do these rights apply only to adults?

d) What are teen rights?

e) Create a list of what teens can and can’t do.

(If students have difficulty with this activity, offer the following examples of what many teens can’t do: drink, vote, drive.)

2. Some people do not think teens should have the same rights as adults for different reasons, such as “teens are too immature to handle too much responsibility” or “teens should be protected.” Conduct a dialogue (see The Magic of Dialogue for a list of 15 strategies for successful dialogue) about teen rights. Form groups of four. Choose two students in your group to fully examine the points of view of Side 1. The other two students should fully examine the points of view of Side 2.

Side 1: Adult rights and teen rights should be the same.

Side 2: Adult rights and teen rights should be different.

For each side:

a) Plan your strategy. List at least three reasons to support your position.

b) Side 1 has two minutes to state its position.

c) Side 2 then has two minutes to offer its position.

d) Now hold a dialogue between both sides, and attempt to find common understanding and value in the other position: an agreement.

e) Reflect on your process.

3. Now you will read two articles. Both articles are examples of times when people felt that teen rights were violated.

a) The first article, Constance McMillen, Focus of “Lesbian Prom” Fight, Wins Discrimination Settlement, discusses the teen right of taking part in school activities. After you’ve read about Constance McMillen, turn to your partner and discuss the following:

* What right was Constance McMillen trying to protect? (Answer: She wanted to attend the prom like all other students at her school.)
* Do you agree that this should be a teen right? Why or why not?
* Do you know of any other instances of discrimination toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender teens?

b) The second article, 6 Teenagers Are Charged After Classmate’s Suicide, deals with harassment at school:

After you’ve read about Phoebe Prince, turn to your partner and discuss the following:

* What right was violated in the case of Phoebe Prince? (Answer: She wanted to go to school free from the harassment of bullies.)
* Do you agree that this case was a violation of a teen right? Why or why not?
* The article mentions that Phoebe Prince recently came to the United States from Ireland. In your opinion, what role did this fact play in the violation of her rights?
* Do you know of any other instances of teen rights being violated because of race or ethnicity?

4. The articles you just read are two examples of cases involving teen rights. Read the following article (originally published by Scholastic’s The New York Times Upfront magazine): 10 Supreme Court Cases Every Teen Should Know.

5. After examining the court cases about teen rights, work with your partner to decide what you think teen rights should be. Together write a list of teen rights. Use the articles you read as inspiration.

6. Post your team’s list around the room to share with your class. As a class, discuss:

a) How were all of the lists of teen rights similar? How were they different?

b) What other teen rights can you think of to add to your lists?

c) How can you promote an environment (in your home, school, and community) that protects and promotes these teen rights?

Extension Activities

* Think about what teen rights violations are possibly happening in your own community. How can you spread awareness and respect for teen rights in a positive way?
* With permission of your school administration, start a teen rights campaign at your school. Work with teachers, school administrators, and other adults in your community to promote teen rights.
* Do more research on the cases of Constance McMillen and Phoebe Prince to learn about teen rights violations happening right now.


Activities and embedded assessments address the following standards (McREL 4th edition)

Language Arts

Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Standard 10: Understands the characteristics and components of the media


Standard 9: Understands the importance of Americans sharing and supporting certain values, beliefs, and principles of American constitutional democracy

Standard 11: Understands the role of diversity in American life and the importance of shared values, political beliefs, and civic beliefs in an increasingly diverse American society

Standard 25: Understands issues regarding personal, political, and economic rights

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  • Julien 2011/06/23 17:31:25
    Teens are the future adults of America
    teens are not yet mature and right minded to make most decisions on their own.
  • lauren 2011/01/20 15:38:42
    Teens are human just like Adults
    Ohhhh Yeahhh. I'm sitting next Thomasssssss in English class!(: oh hi. giggle giggle
  • Gommball 2010/10/12 02:39:02
    Teens are human just like Adults
    Go teens xD
  • GreyHeart 2010/10/08 00:18:51
    Teens are human just like Adults
    just being born give u the right of life

    do what u want, when u want, where u want, and let no-one tell u otherwise
  • atomikmom GreyHeart 2010/10/08 00:25:53
    But do it with care!!!
  • GreyHeart atomikmom 2010/10/08 00:27:01
  • METALheadMom 2010/10/06 22:59:55
    Teens are the future adults of America
    And frankly, that scares the he** out of me. WHO SAYS it is right to get anything without working to earn it, who says anyone automatically deserves respect, who says you should never have to suffer any consequences, who told you it is right for you to have kids, who told you it is wrong for adults to make rules, and since when is it your right to break them as you please.

    Teens have the RIGHT to: get good grades, be responsible for insuring they get to school on time, quiet time to get their homework finished, be clothed properly, have nutritious foods available to eat, live in an acceptable dwelling with clean water and electricity, have friends, know where their parents are and to contact them if needed, talk with a counselor, choose goals for their future.

    They ALSO have the right to express their feelings in a respectful manner, ask questions, offer reasonable alternatives or solutions, and to protect themselves from abuse.

    NO, teens are NOT just like adults - NO, they are not capable of living the life of an adult, therefore, they are not capable of handling the same freedoms as an adult. AND, adults who act like a teen are not accepted in the adult world.
  • Dave Sawyer ♥ Child of God ♥ 2010/10/06 16:11:06
    Teens are the future adults of America
    Dave Sawyer ♥ Child of God ♥
    Therefore, they have their rights limited for their protection. God will hold their parents responsible for not doing their best in raising them to adulthood.
  • atomikmom Dave Sa... 2010/10/06 22:47:18
    That's right!!!! but who will pay in the end!!! not the parents but the Teen,
  • Dave Sa... atomikmom 2010/10/07 02:42:54
    Dave Sawyer ♥ Child of God ♥
    God is in charge in the end and He will judge. Sure the child will suffer in life, but we all do.
  • Captain Sticky 2010/10/06 12:39:17
    Teens are the future adults of America
    Captain Sticky
    They have rights, but responsibility for their actions too. It's important that they learn that.
  • Katie~awkward child♥ 2010/10/06 04:44:03
    Teens are human just like Adults
    Katie~awkward child♥
    As a teen, I pretty much agree. I do think we the current age restrictions for drinking and for voting are fine the way they are though.
  • atomikmom Katie~a... 2010/10/06 04:51:28
    Your time will come sweetie!!! rest that in your mind, LOL!!! But enjoy your youth the best you can now, because times will be rough in the future, sad to say.
  • Teens are human just like Adults
    Jerry (Iron Priest)☮ R ☮ P ☮ 201
    but they have to follow the rules of the house.
  • atomikmom Jerry (... 2010/10/06 04:26:10
    LOL!!!!! YUP!!!!
  • Jerry (... atomikmom 2010/10/06 04:31:00
    Jerry (Iron Priest)☮ R ☮ P ☮ 201
    We were pretty crazy teens in the late 70's and early 80's; I can tell you that.
  • atomikmom Jerry (... 2010/10/06 04:53:07
    My teen years were in the 50's, and BOY!!! They were wild!!!!LOL!!!! RockNRoll!!!!
  • Captain... atomikmom 2010/10/06 12:37:42
    Captain Sticky
    Mine were in the 60s. I forget most of what happened so I guess I had a great time.
  • atomikmom 2010/10/06 04:24:24
    Teens are human just like Adults
    We were once Teens ourselves!!!!! Been there Done that!!!! This is the new generation!!!

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2016/02/11 21:18:13

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