What adolescents said: A consultation in five countries

In 2016, Age Matters! mapped 70 pieces of age-related legislation across 22 countries and territories in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and demonstrated the ways in which legal minimum ages in the region are contentious, contextual and, at times, contradictory.

In 2018, this analysis was deepened through a consultation with adolescents in five countries (Armenia, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Romania and Ukraine), to better understand:

• Perceptions and preferences of adolescents in regards to minimum age laws
• How external circumstances may impact on an adolescent’s autonomy
• How these circumstances may impact an adolescent’s ability to access important services and realise their rights
• The ages at which young people feel capable.

5,725 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 17 participated in an online survey, and 241 adolescents shared their views in 30 focus group discussions. Here’s a snapshot of what they said:

Adolescents were split on the age at which a young person should be held responsible for criminal acts but almost all agreed that children should not be charged as adults

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Over half of adolescents surveyed felt capable enough to vote in national elections

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Almost two-thirds of adolescents surveyed agreed that young people under the age of 18 should not be able to get married

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Only 23,2% of adolescents agreed that a young person should be allowed to leave school and work full-time if they wanted to

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Close to 70% of adolescents surveyed agreed that they should be able to seek medical advice by themselves if they wanted to, and 62% felt capable enough to do so

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Close to one-third avoided seeking medical advice because their parents had to be present

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15% were refused by doctors because a parent was not present

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More than two-thirds of adolescents surveyed agreed that a young person should always give consent prior to receiving a medical treatment. Nearly one-third felt forced to receive a medical treatment by their parents and/or doctor

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