Children - At what age can I? PDF Print E-mail

The law considers the age of a child as an important factor in various situations. The Legal guide to age thresholds for children and young people (April 2011) outlines (among other things) the ages at which a child can act independently from his/her parents or guardians and also sets out various legal rules relevant to the particular ages of children.

Topics covered include:

  • At what age can children make decisions and act on their own without assistance from their parents?
  • What are the age thresholds for children to access social grants or housing subsidies?
  • At what age can a child sign a legal contract, be prosecuted for a crime, smoke or be detained in prison?


Click here to download: Legal Guide to Age Thresholds for Children


This Guide (April 2011 - Edition 5) is a product of the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town.


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Latest News

13 March 2018

Centre for Child Law & Children's Institute make joint oral submissions on the Traditional Courts Bill

On 14 March 2018 The Centre for Child Law and the Children's Institute will make joint oral submissions to the 
Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Traditional Courts Bill.

The CCL and CI welcmoe numerous changes that have been made to the latest draft of the Bill. We note with
appreciation that the latest version of the Bill underlines that participation in traditional court proceedings is
voluntary; and creates mechanims for 'opting out' of the traditional court system.

The CCL and CI also welcome the express commitment of the Bill to the constitutional rights enshrined in chapter 2
of the South African Constitution.

The CCL and CI submit that the Bill needs to be further strengthened to ensure that children's rights are adequately
protected in proceedings of Traditional Courts. In light of existing social norms and the profound violation of children's rights
across the country, there is a need for vigilance and strong accountability systems to ensure that people tasked with protecting
children do not abuse their power.

Read the submissions here.



Centre for Child Law