Let's say there is a minor. He/she buys and currently pay for his/her phone. The minor's guardian demanded that the minor relinquish his/her phone and the minor did not agree. After the police were called the officer claimed it is a parent's right to discipline a child. Police quite essentially claimed minors have no rights.

Is this true, and if it is, in what law is it mentioned?

  • The UN has a fair bit to say about child labour laws. How exactly is the minor paying for anything?
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 1:05
  • @NeilMeyer the minor is not on any forced labor as OP suggests, even in the UK children do take jobs (on will). What concern here is, I support the police officer, the OP gives an opinion that "quite essentially claimed...", but Police says that children need to be disciplined. Police never claimed directly that minors don't have rights, they have laws. Is it legal for minors to open wrong websites?
    – Velma
    Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 12:02
  • @NeilMeyer child labor laws do not generally ban all employment of all minors, nor does the Convention on the Rights of the Child call for such a ban. So the child may have earned the money, whether by scooping ice cream on the weekends or by starring in a television show. Another possibility is that the child received the money as a gift.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 8:14

2 Answers 2


I guess you are interpreting the answer of the officer the wrong way. Minors do have rights. Plenty of them. But using a phone to contact people their legal guardian does not approve, or to consume media their legal guardian does not approve, is usually not a right minors have. And to make those restrictions stick, your mother took your phone away. Ask for it on your 18th birthday.

But when one of you has called the police on a family situation like this, both of you have a problem that goes way beyond property rights. Do you have an adult you can talk to? A teacher? An uncle or aunt? A coach? Try talking to them. If they all side with your mother, consider that she might be right and you are wrong. But often both sides talk themselves into a corner, and a neutral viewpoint helps.

If you are truly desperate about your situation, call Child Protective Services. But that could backfire if they believe your mother, and make the family situation worse. Taking a phone away is not neglect or abuse.

  • 2
    @AitzazImtiaz Do you have any basis for thinking that this is the case? The question does not suggest that the law enforcement officer's thinking was motivated by this consideration.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 21:10
  • 1
    @AitzazImtiaz In the context of other actions is can be a basis for intervention of child protective services. And, creating new facts not in a question can just muddle the answer more.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 21:17
  • 1
    I suspect with all the depravity that police people have to deal with on a dialy basis a child complaining about a phone being taken away from them is probably unlikely to garner sympathy.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 1:09
  • 3
    @NeilMeyer, I would say that generally speaking, a 15-year-old will be much closer to being an adult than being a toddler, and the parents should let him or her out of their sights. Including on the internet. But I don't know the history of the OP's family.
    – o.m.
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 4:57
  • 2
    As a general rule, few judges would side with a minor against their legal guardian(s) if the question at issue is "Do parents have the legal ability to restrict their minor child's access to technology, even if said child wholly owns the device" if that is the sole complaint made before the judge. There are always exceptions, but given everything provided, but usually the problem is not just the phone.
    – hszmv
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 15:04

Mom either has the right to take your phone, or she doesn’t. What the police officer says doesn’t change that.

She may have been unsure about whether she has the right and after talking to the police officer she feels sure, but she could still be wrong. And police officers have some experience with the law, so if they give mom advice there’s a good chance it is correct.

In this case, I believe she has the legal right to take the phone. Whether she has the moral right, and whether it is the best way to raise her kids, that is another matter.

  • 1
    I wouldn't assume police officers know the law in the US. US courts have repeatedly ruled that police officers can't be expected to know even the most basic of laws even though everybody else is presumed to have memorized the entire body of applicable law. Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 15:16
  • "I believe she has the legal right to take the phone": what law is that statement based on?
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 8:08
  • @AndrewRay indeed, a specialist child protection officer is far more likely to know how parental rights and responsibilities interact with a child's property and other rights. (I say "other rights" because it's also possible for a parent's purported punishment of a child to violate the child's rights, for example if it rises to the level of psychological abuse.) But as far as we know here, the officer merely said that a parent has a right to discipline a child. That statement is correct.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 9, 2023 at 8:14

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