General human rights provisions of constitutional or statutory law are, as a rule, not specifically made applicable to children. Also youth is the sole component of society which is deprived of any direct representation of its own interests. A social policy for youth is necessarily a "filtered" policy, an asymmetric one, in which there is no dialectical confrontation between the concerned parties. Some legal disabilities and sanctions imposed by municipal law on children are not justifiable in terms of child protection, whatever the intent behind them, but amount to repressive and unfair treatment of children collectively. This differential treatment of children as a class is tantamount to discrimination against them on the ground of non-age. The administration of justice in the case of young offenders is very important for the full enjoyment of youth of the right to life. Recourse to detention for an indefinite period, sometimes adopted even for unusual behaviour not involving any breach of the penal law, is today considered contrary to human rights.
Perhaps more prevalent than discrimination against children as a whole is discrimination against particular groups of children. There is the practice of differentiating between the sexes for purposes of the minimum age for marriage and similar gender discrimination with regard to access to education opportunities. The law in some countries favours male children for inheritance purposes. Discrimination on account of birth status (whether born within or out of wedlock) is still widespread and covers such matters as legal rights to inheritance and maintenance, as well as pension, insurance, and welfare benefits. Adopted children still encounter similar problems.