We start the 21st century...Adolescents
The Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the rights of children up to the age of 18; but adolescents are no longer children in the traditional sense and not yet adults. Working to support their families, fighting their countries' wars and heading households, adolescents often find that they must fend for themselves, lacking a political voice and without the base of family and community support they had when they were younger.
It is a human tragedy, not to mention a gross violation of human rights, to bring adolescents to the brink of adulthood - and then deny them the opportunity to realize their full potential. Adolescents need and deserve a chance to finish school and to participate in activities with their peers. They need and deserve 'safe' places such as schools, vocational settings and youth centres in which to develop the skills to deal with life situations. And they need and deserve services that enlist the support of caring adults and offer a connection with family and community.
A resource of enormous potential - as peers, older siblings or heads of households, as parents or future parents - adolescents contribute to their societies in myriad ways. As partners in advancing a global agenda, adolescents are uniquely poised to change the course of human development.