You and Your Rights: Constitutional Rights of a child


  • Every child has a right to protection from exploitation
  • Any child that is detained has the right to be kept apart from adult prisoners
  • A child is defined as any person under 18 years of age
  • Every child has the right to social and health care services

Your Rights

Section 28 of the South African Constitution says ..

(1) Every child has the right:

(a) to a name and a nationality from birth;
(b) to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment;
(c) to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services and social services;
(d) to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse or degradation;
(e) to be protected from exploitative labour practices;
(f) not to be required or permitted to perform work or provide services that -
(i) are inappropriate for a person of that child's age; or
(ii) place at risk the child's well-being, education, physical or mental health or spiritual, moral or social development;
(g) not to be detained except as a measure of last resort, in which case, in addition to the rights a child enjoys under sections 12 and 35, the child may be detained only for the shortest appropriate period of time, and has the right to be -

  • kept separately from detained persons over the age of 18 years; and
  • treated in a manner, and kept in conditions, that take account of the child's age;

(h) to have a legal practitioner assigned to the child by the state, and at state expense, in civil proceedings affecting the child, if substantial injustice would otherwise result; and
(i) not to be used directly in armed conflict, and to be protected in times of armed conflict.

(2) A child's best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.

(3)In this section "child" means a person under the age of 18 years.