Your rights as a teenager 

Being in your teen years can be difficult, especially when you’re expected to be grown while you’re still figuring life out and getting to know yourself. On the other hand, you might be looked at as someone who doesn’t know much, making it easier for people to disregard your rights. But whatever it is you’re going through, it’s important to know what you deserve access to so that you’re never taken advantage of. Here are the rights you should always fight for: 

The right to basic health

You have a right to all basic healthcare services, including getting tested for STIs, taking a pregnancy or HIV testing – as well as getting treatment where necessary.

The right to an education

Every single teenager has the right to get educated. However, with this right also comes responsibility. For example, you also have the responsibility not to interrupt others from getting educated. As much as you have a right to be educated, that doesn’t mean that you can disrupt class because you would be violating someone else’s right to education. 

The right to freedom of expression 

This right means that you are allowed to express yourself freely. However, that doesn’t mean you can go around spreading rumours, bullying or hurting other people’s feeling as a way to express yourself. 

The right to say no

Saying no to your friends or partner can be hard sometimes and you might think saying no could result in them not wanting to chill with you anymore.  But the truth is Choma, you have a right to say no to peer-pressure and to doing anything that you’re not comfortable with.

The right to be safe from harm

You have the right to be safe from all kinds of abuse (whether it’s at home or in a relationship), bullying, rape and sexual assault. It’s very important to know that nobody has a right to hurt you, and that you can report it if anyone does. Here are places you can get free support if you’re ever in a situation where you’ve been abused: 

LifeLine – 011 715-2000

Stop Women Abuse – 0800 150 150 (toll free)

POWA – 011 642 4345/6

Rape Crisis – 021 447 9762 (Observatory);  021 633 9229 (Athlone); 021 361 9085 (Khayelitsha)

No matter how old you are, you have the right to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness. It’s also always good to know what your rights are so that other people don’t disregard them – regardless of your age. 

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).