Passport for life's journey

Karen Shead

A guide to the law for teenagers gives practical advice to help them to be responsible citizens, writes Karen Shead.

The pocket-sized Young Citizen's Passport Scotland is small but contains a lot to explore. Its 145 pages are packed with information for everyday life and aim to raise 14- to 19-year-olds' awareness of their rights and responsibilities in the community and in law.

The Young Citizen's Passport is in its ninth edition in England and Wales and now available in Scotland, published by Hodder Gibson in partnership with the Citizenship Foundation and the Law Society Scotland.

It contains 12 colour-coded chapters of practical advice and information covering such issues as human rights, sex, discrimination, work, travel, money and safety. The section on education, for example, gives information about attendance, rules and regulations, exclusion, reports and records, examinations and bullying. The money section defines common financial terms and covers bank accounts, borrowing money and debt; it explains the terms used when talking about insurance and it explains income tax.

There are clear explanations of the law and social institutions, as well as a list of more than 100 contact addresses, websites and telephone numbers.

When the guide was officially launched at the end of last term at the Signet Library in Edinburgh's Parliament Square, four students gave their opinions of it.

"The law is described in ways people can understand," said 17-year-old Charlie Beaumont of Hillhead High, Glasgow, adding that the section on education was particularly useful. "Although young people spend 13 years at school, they don't know their educational rights. It also gives information on bullying."

Fellow pupil Daniel McNulty, also 17, said: "Some of the things are common knowledge but it helps to clear up anything you don't know about.

"The most important chapter of this book is probably the contacts section.

It's a valuable resource for young people as well as people who work with young people."

Jennifer Black and Donna Wilson, both 18, from Castlehead High, Paisley, believe the guide will be beneficial for young people. Jennifer, whose picture features on the inside cover, said: "At first glance it doesn't look like much but it contains information about sex, drugs and rock 'n'


"It explains the voting system very well. We take modern studies so know a lot about it, but I can guarantee there are a lot of young people who don't."

Donna added: "The information on work and training is extremely useful. So many people have part-time jobs and it informs us of our rights.

"The money section is also very useful. It keeps the information clear and to the point.

"Even if you just look at one topic it will help. We really think it's such a good idea to publish this. We feel it will be extremely useful to all young people at some point in their lives."

As well as being a source of practical advice for teenagers, it can also be used in school for modern studies, citizenship and personal and social development classes or as a resource for youth workers and personal advisers.

John Mitchell, managing director of Hodder Gibson, said: "Over 750,000 students in England and Wales have received a Young Citizen's Passport. The launch in Scotland means that Scottish teenagers now have the same chance as young people south of the border to access an up-to-date, accessible and handy-sized guide to the law."

Douglas Mill, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "Young people should have easy access to the law and information on how it relates to them. School leavers will face situations every day where the law has a direct impact on their lives and the Passport will be an invaluable reference point for what to do and where to go when that happens."

Young Citizen's Passport Scotland, Hodder Gibson, pound;3.99, discounts for bulk orders. Tel 0141 848 1609; email

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Karen Shead

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