In Denmark, adulthood starts at the age of 18, but long before then, the process of becoming independent from one's parents and of taking on responsibility begins. Below, you will find a summary of the rights and responsibilities your child will have at certain ages whilst living in Denmark. Not only do these ensure the child's rights, they also enhance their sense of responsibility of growing up in a democratic society.
The source used is Børneportalen, an online portal encouraged by United Nations, explaining to children how their rights and responsibilites are.
0 years - for all children age 0 to 18
Children have the right to parents who look after them and provide them with care, safety and protection.
No adults may hit children and/or use another form of physical or psychological violent punishment.
Children are entitled to help and advice from the council as well as from health visitors, doctors and dentists.
Everyone is allowed to watch A-marked films. There are no unpleasant or frightening scenes in films marked with “A”; therefore, all children are allowed to watch these. It can easily be a boring adult film which children don’t like.
Before the age of 6 months, parents must ensure that their child has been given an official name. If parents don’t share the same surname, it’s up to them to agree which surname the child shall be given.
All children aged 2 and above must have their own seat whilst flying.
Children have the right to start 0. klasse (reception class) when they are between 4 and 5 years old.
When a child turns 6, the parents are obliged to provide them with schooling. Children have the right to free schooling in Folkeskolen (the Danish public schooling system), but parents can decide if their children should be schooled elsewhere - eg. in a private school setting or at home.
Children enjoy the right to go to school in Denmark if they are staying in the country for more than 6 months.
If parents allow it, children can cycle in the streets on their own. It is important to make sure the child is a secure cyclist and know the traffic rules before cycling on their own. All children under the age of 6 must cycle with someone turned 15 years of age.
Children are allowed to watch film marked 7 on their own or with other children. Films marked 7 are allowed for all, but it can be a good idea to wait till the child has turned 7.
If a child’s parents are divorced, and the child disagree with what has been decided in relation to the parents’ divorce, the child can apply for a meeting with its parents in Familieretshuset. A caseworker will discuss with the parents of how to provide a solution which can accommodate the child’s wellbeing.
At all schools with year 5 classes and above, children have the right to form student councils.
Children can watch films marked 11 on their own or with other children.
Children can only be adopted if they wish so themselves. That means a stepparent can only adopt a child, if the child itself allows this. Before the age of 12, the child is entitled to express its opinion on any adoption.
A child can be part of the decision making in relation to name change. A child can refrain from taking its stepparent’s surname if they don’t want to. Before the age of 12, the authorities can choose to hear the child’s opinion, but is not obliged to do so.
If a child is placed outside the family home, eg. in an institution or with a foster family, it has access to documents concerning its case. It also enjoys the benefit of free legal advice via a free solicitor should it be needed.
Children are allowed to work in their spare time if their parents allow this. The ethos is, it should be a simple job - like a newspaper round. The job cannot jeopardise the child’s health or schooling. The child cannot work more than two hours a day on school days and 7 hours on other days. The total amount of working hours a week cannot exceed 12 hours during a school week and 35 hours during weeks of school holidays. The child cannot work after 8pm and before 6am.
At the age of 13, children can have accounts on social media such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
At this age, children are also allowed to have Mit ID.
Children can begin taking driver’s license for smaller mopeds at the age of 14 years and 6 months. This only applies for mopeds with a maximum speed of 30 kilometres per hour. The license cannot be given to the child till it turns 15 years of age.
A child can now work 2 hours on school days and 8 hours on all other days if they hold a spare time job. The maximum working hours during school weeks are 12 hours and 40 hours during school holidays. They cannot work after 8pm and before 6am.
From the child’s 15th birthday, they are allowed to engage in sexual activities with others at the age of 15 year or above. It is illegal to have sexual activity with anyone below the age of 15. This is to protect anyone below the age of 15 from being taken advantage upon by an older person.
When a child is 15, the child decides how it wants to spend its money. The child cannot incur debt, and as such, it can only decide over money it already has. If a child cheats with its age, it risks having to pay compensation.
When a child turns 15, they are allowed access to netbanking if their bank believe the child is mature enough to handle the system. The bank is allowed to notify the parents if a child establishes an agreement with them around netbank. Some banks offer netbanking to children as young as 13 years of age.
When a child turns 15, the child themselves decides if they want to be a member of Folkekirken or not.
At the age of 15, the child can decide to have another GP (family doctor) than their family. Up until the age of 15, a child automatically has the same GP as its parents.
When 15 and above, a child can have contraceptive pills at the GP (family doctor) without the consent of its parents. Before the age of 15, parents must consent. It’s the doctor’s responsibility to access if this form of contraceptive is safe for the child in question.
When 15 and above, a child has the right to know about its illness and any treatment at the doctor’s or at hospital. A child this age can also decide if they want treatment of not. If a person is fainted and not responsive, a doctor can treat the person without consent. In most cases, a child’s parents need to be informed of the treatment, but a doctor can fail to inform the parents if informing the parents can harm the child.
At this age, children can watch films marked 15.
It is also at the age of 15 and above, children can be held responsible for their actions. This means a child can be punished with a fine, a youth sanction or prison if it has committed a crime. Children between the age of 10 and 14 can, if they have committed a serious crime, be put in front of a youth crime board who decide what happens to the child.
When 16, a child has the right to buy alcohol with an alcohol percentage up to 16,5% in shops. It’s illegal to buy alcohol in restaurants and nightclubs as well as alcohol above 16,5% till the age of 18.
The child has the right to choose another dentist than that of the council. Until the child turns 18, the council pays for any dental treatment.
Three months prior to a child’s 16th birthday, it may begin taking driver’s license for a tractor.
Three months prior to a child’s 18th birthday, it can begin taking driver’s license for a car. When practising on streets, a licensed and qualified driver’s instructor must always be in the car. If a child is below the age of 18, their parents must give written permission for them to take driving lessons.
A child can take the practical exam of their driver’s license qualification. If they pass, they are given a permit to drive. Until the turn 18, they can only drive if an experienced driver above 30 years of age and who has had a valid driver’s license for at least 10 years is in the car. The responsibility to make the experienced driver aware of these requirements rests upon the 17-year-old driver. No one is allowed to drive on their own till they are 18 years of age or older.
Three months prior to one’s 18th birthday, a child can begin taking their license for a little motorcycle. When practising, the learner must be accompanied by a driver instructor who drives close by.
Upon a child’s 18th birthday, a child is now legally seen as an adult and is granted the following rights:
Vote for council elections, parliament elections and EU-elections
Decide where to live
Decide which religion to practise
Buy alcohol and tobacco in shops and restaurants
Buy painkillers over the counter
Decide in personal and most financial cases
Drive a car on its own (if license is granted)
Have a pregnancy terminated without parental consent
Even if 18 years of age and seen as an adult, there are still aspects which a person cannot decide upon till the age of 21. This includes:
Taking certain driver’s licenses - eg. trucks or busses.
Access to accounts blocked by parents of grandparents till the age of 21 (this applies for accounts specifically taken out by parents and grandparents to put savings aside for the child/(grandchild). Special rules apply for these.