Understanding mental capacity
Understanding mental capacity

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Understanding mental capacity

Week 5: Children and young people

Introduction

Mental capacity is a complicated enough topic in relation to adults, for whom the presence or lack of capacity is often highly debatable. For children, however, and especially for young children, there is a general presumption of incapacity, not capacity. Of course, this evolves through childhood, but, as we all know, every child is different. While chronological age is important, it is not the only factor that determines whether decision making should be at the discretion of the parents or the children themselves. This week you explore these issues in greater depth. 

By the end of this week you should be able to:

  • describe how a child’s presumed innate incapacity to make important decisions evolves through childhood to capacity 
  • explain when and how parental decision making may be shared with or delegated to ‘competent’ children
  • explain how the age of 16 is an important threshold for asserting the legal presumption of capacity
  • describe some of the difficulties and ambiguities relating to capacity for young people aged 16 and 17
  • describe two examples of exceptional situations where the capacity of a child or young person may be especially compromised: child sexual exploitation and the interface with mental health services and law
Skip Your course resources
MHC_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371