Children and Teenagers PDF Print E-mail

Children and teenagers who are capable of making their own decisions have the same rights to privacy and confidentiality as adults.  

Normally, the parent or guardian will instruct the health care provider and give or refuse consent on the child's or teenager's behalf. But the child can give his or her own instructions if

  • he or she is legally "capable" of giving instructions themselves,
  • the doctor is of the opinion that the child understands the situation and the benefits and risks; and
  • following the instruction is in the child's or teenager's best interest. 

There is no set age for when a child or teenager becomes capable to give instructions about his or her health information. It depends on the child or teenager's ability to understand the situation, the benefits and risks and the implications of the choice.  

Does the doctor have to tell the parents?

No, a doctor or health care provider has to get the child or teenager's agreement before telling the parents or guardian about the child or teenager's health information.

This means that in most situations a child or teenager can talk to their doctor about things like birth control, pregnancy and abortion, mental health concerns, sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol, drugs, addiction and other things they might not want to talk to their parents about.  

There are some limits to this rule: 

  • some doctors insist on telling a child’s parent or guardian if they treat the child.
  • if there is good reason to believe that a child or teenager might harm themselves or others, or that there are certain kinds of abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) then the doctor is required by law to report it to authorities. 

Talk to your doctor

If you are a child or teenager and you want your doctor to keep your medical information confidential, it’s important to tell the doctor. 

If you are not comfortable speaking to your doctor about a health problem, you may wish to go to a clinic for confidential treatment.  

List of Youth Clinics for Confidential Services

Here is a list of youth clinics in the Lower Mainland.  

Here is a list of clinics throughout BC that provide a variety of services as well as confidential pregnancy or STI services.