A child’s opinion should be heard in health-related matters and given due weight based on their capacity. But age should not be the determining factor in evaluating if a child has the capacity to consent or reject treatment and care. Instead, a range of factors, including psychological maturity, experience and context should be assessed on a case by case basis.
A key element of the right to consent or refuse consent involves access to impartial, appropriate and sensitive counselling to support the child to make informed decisions and avert parental pressure.
Read more on page 20 of our discussion paper Age is Arbitrary: Discussion paper on setting minimum ages.
Access to justice
Rights violations in this context may occur when there are tensions between children's right to make decisions about their own bodies and what others perceive to be in their best interests. In this respect, access to justice acts as a safeguard against incorrect determinations as to the child's capacity by doctors.
Campaigns and resources
‘Competent children? Minors' consent to health care treatment and research,’ by Priscilla Alderson in Social Science and Medicine
‘Measuring maturity: Understanding children’s ‘evolving capacities’,’ by CRIN
‘Age restrictions lifted on euthanasia,’ by CRIN
- CRIN policy page on children’s bodily integrity