Children are considered vulnerable until they reach the age of maturity, which is 18 years old in most states. Children, as a result of circumstances not of their own making, may be left impoverished and homeless, and deprived of opportunities open for them by the government. It is in this regard that federal and state government enacted legislation codifying children's rights. Children do not have full rights compared to adults. Nevertheless, children, under the law, have inherent legal rights and are also granted additional rights. Children's rights law is embodied, in the national scene, by the U.S. Constitution under the Fourteenth Amendment, and in the international scene, by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Children's rights law aims to safeguard children, their welfare and their rights as individuals. These federal and state laws addresses the children's social welfare; health, education and special needs. Although parents have the fundamental right of caring for their children, when the state evaluates that the child is not safe with his parents, the state can remove the child from his home and ensure the child is given rightful care. Children's rights law also aims to stop abuses that children may suffer, including child trafficking, child labor, child prostitution and child pornography. In addition, children's rights law also addresses how the juvenile justice system deals with minors. Social problems relating to children are constantly shifting and children's rights law aim to address these problems. In recent years, cases of cyber-bullying and child pornography in the Internet have increased.
Children's rights law varies from state to state. The Fair Labor Standards Act provide that only adults who are aged 18 and above may be employed, with some exceptions. Children below the age of 18 may gain rightful employment, subject to certain conditions that are meant to protect them from abusive employment practices. Employment limitations include limitations on the number of hours children are allowed to work based on the premise that children are supposed to be in school at specific times of the day. The FLSA, however, was enacted at a time when family farms were still prevent and the statute has not been amended to address the change in employment landscape. Many have pushed for the amendment to the FLSA because its codes relating to farm work for children are fairly lax and are seen as hindrances to their development.
When faced with charges of violations of children's rights law, it is imperative to seek the aid of an attorney as federal and state governments are zealous in the enforcement of the law. In addition, non-governmental groups are also active in pursuing violations of children's rights law. A violation of the children's rights has accompanying penalties that vary from state to state, and the prosecution of such violations also depend on the procedures laid out by the state. A violation of these laws may be minor or major, depending on the state. It is thus crucial for those facing charges to employ attorneys who are experts in the area of children's rights law.