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Age Doesnt Define Voice

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Malcolm X once said, “Human rights are something you were born with. Human rights are your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognized by all nations of this earth.” If you look at our world today, most people would say everyone has equal rights. But does everybody really have equal rights?
     The answer is equality is limited. Everybody has equal rights above the age of 18. Anybody under 18 years old is not protected underneath certain amendments. There are some amendments in which minors are protected under, but there are many where they are not.
     If you look at the constitution many of the amendments do not protect minors. If you look at the first amendment which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” minors do not fall under this amendment. Schools are constantly limiting students freedom of speech. They tell students to have opinions and speak freely, but as soon as a student does it’s shut down. One example of this is the court case called Tinker v. Des Moines dealing with an issue regarding several students being suspended for wearing black armbands that protested against the Vietnam War. The court observed, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." Eventually the court ruled, school officials have to justify censoring speech they, "must be able to show that [their] action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an
unpopular viewpoint.”
     Not only are schools limiting minors rights. Some common rights that adults have and minors don’t is children are not allowed to vote, hold property, consent to medical treatment, sue or be sued, or enter into certain types of contracts, and the list goes on. In some cases, a child is able to do these things but must have a parent or legal guardian act on his or her behalf. How is this fair?
     If we look at the constitution, almost every amendments says “people”. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m almost positive all ages are counted as a person. Merriam- Webster dictionary defines person as “a human being” or “a human being regarded as an individual”. A human is defined as “a member of the species Homo sapiens”. Based off of the dictionary minors are counted as people and human beings. So why does only a few amendments only protect these people and human beings above the age of 18?
     The law recognizes that children under 18 aren't emotionally or physically ready to handle the responsibility attached to legal activities. The law implements ages of majority designed to define when a person has the ability to exercise his or her rights responsibly. These usually vary by state, but they govern everything from the right to drive to the right to marry. Amendment 14 recognizes this also by giving parents the right to raise their children as they want as long as there is no abuse.
     Though minors don’t have some rights they do have others. All minors have a right to a safe environment, fair treatment when it comes to treatment of authorities, free education, and so on. When it comes to the treatment of minors they’re protected, but as soon as its free speech, voting, or getting a say in anything, they are no longer protected.

     It’s time for the government and adults to stop censoring minors. Minors have just as many opinions and deserve a voice. The mental and physical maturity of minors should not limit their voices. I’m not saying we should give minors the right to drink and get married at 13 years old. I’m saying give them a chance. Believe it or not, lots of minors are very intelligent. They have good opinions, interesting points of views, and could change others ideas. Don’t limit minors voice or rights. One day they will no longer be counted as minors. One day the children you are keeping quiet will be older then 18 and then they will voice their opinions. It’s just a matter of time. Why push them off to the side until they are 18 when they can speak now? 


   


Works Cited:

      "What Are the Legal Rights of Children? - FindLaw." Findlaw. N.p., n.d. Web.
      "Do Children and Teenagers Have Constitutional Rights?" HowStuffWorks. N.p., 21 Dec. 2010. Web.
     Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web




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