Our Youth Law Project answers hundreds of questions every year from kids who want to know how the law affects their lives. Here are a few things we have heard that are JUST NOT TRUE! Listen to a lawyer, and get the right information.
WRONG! If you are under age 18, and you have a baby, you are still considered a minor. You still have to follow the rules set by your parent or legal custodian. You have the right to make decisions about your baby and your parents have the right to make decisions about you. Not only are you not emancipated, but you now have the added responsibilities of parenthood. For example: if you leave home without permission you might be treated as a runaway, AND you also face the risk of having child protection question if you are a good parent.
WRONG! If you are living away from your parents, whether you have their permission or not, and you are taking care of your own finances, you can get medical, dental and mental health services. The doctor can treat you even if you don’t have a parent’s signature on the forms. See our fact sheet Can I go to the doctor on my own?
WRONG! Parents can use “reasonable and moderate physical discipline” as long as it doesn’t cause injury. A parent can’t throw, kick, burn, bite or cut, or strike a child with a closed fist. Parents can make and enforce reasonable rules.
WRONG! A delinquency record can have a bad effect on you in a number of ways. Here are some examples:
the records may be released to your school, courts, or others in certain circumstances.
if you are convicted of a crime as an adult, any convictions you got as a minor might be used to increase your sentence
if you are not a U.S. citizen, a record of delinquency could put you at risk of deportation
conviction of some delinquent acts require that you register as a sex offender
a potential employer may get access to your records by asking you to sign a release or because the job you are applying for requires a background check. Your delinquency records will show up and you might not get the job.
WRONG! If you live away from your parents, you may be considered homeless. You must be allowed to enroll in:
the last school you went to, or
the school you would be assigned to based on your current temporary address.
Each district has a homeless student liaison whose job it is to help you enroll in school. You may think you are not homeless because you have a place to stay. But if you are not living with a parent or legal guardian and you are having trouble enrolling in school, you should contact the liaison for help.
WRONG! In some cases, the police and probation officers may give delinquency records to the school. This might happen even if the delinquency was something you did away from the school or school events. You could face suspension or expulsion for your actions away from school property, events or vehicles if your behavior “interferes with school operations” or threaten students or school employees.
WRONG! Information posted on Facebook can easily get into the hands of the police or school administration. Students have been suspended from school and prohibited from playing high school sports because someone got hold of pictures of them drinking alcohol or doing drugs. Pictures of drinking, mentions of weapons, talk of hurting someone, or messages that bully or harass other students could land you in the principal’s office!
Postings on Facebook can also cause problems with jobs or friendships. The internet has a long memory so be careful what you decide to share.
WRONG! It is true that Minnesota does not have a statute that defines emancipation and gives a process for becoming emancipated. But, Minnesota courts recognize that emancipation exists. A child may be considered emancipated IF the parent agrees that the child may live independently. The child must have a plan that includes a place to live and a way to pay the bills. Some kids ask about emancipation when what they really want is to escape abuse from their parents. If you think you can live on your own and your parents are okay with that decision, or if you don’t feel safe with your parents and need help understanding your other options, call the Youth Law Project for advice on what you can do legally. See our fact sheet Emancipation.