Are young people being discriminated against?

Founded in 1968, the National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) says yes and works to educate the public on how laws intended to protect young people instead treat them as second-class citizens. sat down with NYRA's president Jeffrey Nadel to discuss how drinking, curfew, and other laws punish young adults. Nadel points to New Jersey's Kyliegh's law as an example of how the unintended consequences of many laws aimed at protecting youth actually endanger them. The law requires drivers under the age of 21 to have a red decal on the license plates of the vehicles they drive, ostensibly to allow law enforcement to be more protective of them. But the decals have instead lead violent drivers to target those cars; infractions by younger drivers also come with harsher penalties for typical traffic violations. Instead of one-size-fits-all policies that punish responsible youth, Nadel says that decisions about alcohol consumption, work hours, and even voting should be more tailored to individuals, regardless of age.

For more on Kyleigh's Law, read Reason magazine's June 2011 story "Dead Kids Make Bad Laws." And on lowering the drinking age, check out's "21: Is It Time to Lower the Drinking Age" and Reason magazine's "Back to 18."

Interview by Michelle Fields. Shot by Jim Epstein and Joshua Swain; edited by Swain.

Approximately 4.18 minutes.

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