Currently, there is no universal definition for youth. In most cases, the group is referred to with the terms young people or youth. The definition of youth differs in the legislations of different policy fields. Adulthood, the upper age limit of compulsory education, the right to vote, and other topics more or less coincide with most of the European Union countries. In most fields, the age of 18 represents the boundary between childhood and (young) adulthood, however, the school-leaving age was reduced from 18 to 16 in 2011 (OECD 2015).
Hungarian Fundamental Law
The Hungarian Fundamental Law mentions young people twice. The National Avowal contains a more general, moral statement about the role of the future generation: 'We trust in a jointly-shaped future and the commitment of younger generations. We believe that our children and grandchildren will make Hungary great again with their talent, persistence and moral strength.' Apart from this section, there is only one reference to young people in Article XVIII. According to this, '[…] by means of separate measures, Hungary shall ensure the protection of young people and parents at work.'
The two latest youth-related documents are the National Youth Strategy (Nemzeti Ifjúsági Stratégia, hereinafter referred to as NYS) and the Programme for the Future of the New Generation (Új Nemzedék Jövőjéért Program) – Youth Policy Framework Programme, which entered into force as a government programme. Both of these contain definitions for youth.
National Youth Strategy
The strategy that was adopted by the Parliament in 2009 (Parliament Resolution 88/2009. [X. 29.] OGY on the National Youth Strategy) describes young people in the following way:
'The target group of the strategy – in its connotative meaning – extends from the appearance of the peer group to responsibility taken for one another. […] This time horizon classifies people aged between approx. 8-12 years and approx. 25-30 years as youth (the international and national practice of law defines childhood as the age group between 0-18 years).' (National Youth Strategy)
However, trends evolving in society and professional dilemmas imply that in the youth field, it is necessary to leave more space to approaches that focus on individual characteristics regardless of age. Although classifications by age groups provide a scientifically approved theoretical basis, they do not prevail over the principle inherent in youth policy that the individual is unique and inimitable, and – taking into account their biological development and social status - can only be classified into categories with reservations. (NYS, 2009 p. 6.)
It should be noted that the Strategy requires large-scale quantitative youth research conducted every four years, which targets the age group of 15-29-year-olds, in accordance with the traditions of the international and national youth researches. The 1995th LXIV. Law on Children and Youth Fund (Gyermek és Ifjúsági Alap, hereinafter referred to as GYIA) also refers to this age group as youth.
New Generation Reloaded Project
The current New Generation Reloaded Project (Új Nemzedék Újratöltve) defines the age group of 15-25 year-olds as its target group in line with the Youth Guarantee Programme.
Child Protection Act
Other important laws and legislations refer to young people as well: the Act XXXI of 1997 on Child Protection (1997. évi XXXI. törvény a gyermekek védelméről és a gyámügyi igazgatásról) determines the age of youth in the following way:
'b) juvenile is a person who:
ba) had reached the age of 14 at the time of an offence committed,
bb) had reached the age of 14 at the time of a crime committed before 1 July 2013,
bc) had reached the age of 12 at the time of a crime committed after 30 June 2013 but had not reached the age of 18 or the age of 21 in case of having been raised in a juvenile detention centre,
c) young adult is a person who has reached adulthood but has not reached the age of 24.'
By the law, young adults are eligible for certain support and mentoring, especially via rehabilitation and aftercare.
Labour and Civil Code
As determined in the Labour Code (Munka Törvénykönyve), a young worker is a 'worker who has not reached the age of 18'. As minors, they have specific rights in the terms of employment regarding work duration, and health and safety in the workplace. The Civil Code (Polgári Törvénykönyv) regards those as minors, who are under the age of 18. As for their legal status, minors above the age of 14 usually are of diminished capacity.
The Criminal Code (Büntető Törvénykönyv) reduced the age limit for being liable from the age of 14 to 12 in case of juvenile delinquents (the referred part from the Child Protection Act implies the same, as well). The crimes where the age limit is to be applied include robbery and pilferage, too. Nonetheless, this measure has not transformed significantly the legal practice due to the low number of juvenile detainees; in 2019 only 2 young people were detained. (Börtönstatisztikai Szemle 2020)