The Teen Bill of Responsibilities

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
May 1st, 2014 | Updated: October 15th, 2019

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This is my personal review for “The Teen Bill of Responsibilities” by Stephen Smoke – view the book on

What It’s About:

The Teen Bill of Responsibilities is based on a single premise: If you have rights, you have responsibilities. It is intended to be used as a workbook. The Bill of Responsibilities books, as well as the course, are based on the Socratic Method. That is, questions are asked and the reader fills in the answer. This allows readers and students to come to their own conclusions and realizations at their own pace. Because of this unique presentation, the answers to each question will be different for each person, depending on his or her own experiences. This also makes the learning experience more relevant because the answers – and, therefore, the understanding, or meaning, derived from those answers – will be based on the readers’ experiences and not the author’s.

The author describes three ways for teenagers to use the book: read and use the workbook on their own, read it aloud and discuss it with their friends and/or take the TBOR course online which is available for free for elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and homeschools – check out their website here for more info. They are excellent at adapting the course to fit your needs!

What This Book Will Do for You:

  • This book deals with the issue of teenage alienation and allows you to put it in perspective.
  • It is an invaluable resource for guidance councellors, parents and mentors everywhere
  • The author identifies the key values that teens should understand
  • The book will help to build bridges between parents, teachers, councellors and teenagers
  • The book will help to empower young teens to express themselves with a newfound sense of maturity, esteem and social responsibility
  • Parents will learn how to open up the lines of communication and foster independence
  • Teens – earn the respect of your parents and teachers. Learn how to handle your friends, cliques and the cool crowd
  • Feel that your parents understand your views and feel happy with the way that teachers treat you
  • Teachers – teach a civil spirit and social responsibility to teens and show students how to become aware of their behaviour and the way it affects others
  • Help the young adults around you handle life’s changes confidently. Show teens how they can make their voices heard without overstepping boundaries.
  • Make your home or school environment more peaceful and productive.
  • Teach teens to appreciate rights and privileges and help them learn that their values and beliefs determine many of their successes and failures
  • This life-changing resource addresses many key life lessons in a practical way

Go and get a copy now !

About the Author:

Stephen Smoke is the author of 17 novels, including Black Butterfly, Pacific Blues and Pacific Coast Highway. He has also written several non-fiction books. He has written and directed feature films including Street Crimes and Final Impact. He founded and published Mystery Magazine and published the first online mystery magazine (Hamilton Caine’s Mystery Digest) in 1984. He is also an accomplished songwriter and in 1989 recorded an album in support of his novel Trick of the light. In 1997 his company, Onlineseminars, produced the first continuing education for credit online course, California Dental Law, and later, with a partner, published the first standards for online learning.

What I Liked About the Book:

The way the book works is this – it is composed of statements about rights and responsibilities which both teach and improve understanding, esteem and confidence in teens. A few examples:

  • I have the right to express myself – I have the responsibilty to realize I do not have the right to express myself when that expression infringes on the rights of others.
  • I have the right to date whomever I want to date – I have the responsibilty to choose someone who respects me at least as much as I respect myself

These statements show how rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. They encourage social responsibility. Chapters of the book include: Myself, my life, my beliefs, my body, my family, my friends, my school, my neighbourhood, country and community. Each chapter ends with a section where a right is stated and the teen reader can fill in a corresponding responsibility.

Each chapter is divided into three parts. Examples of rights and responsibilities relating to the chapter such as “I have the right to be offended by what someone says or does.” and “I have a responsibility to realize that not everything that offends me is necessarily offensive” are given to the reader.

This is followed by a typical right the reader might have, with blank lines following each of these rights. They are provided for the reader to jot down what they think their responsibilities would be for that specific right,  for instance “I have the right to expect my parents to be proud of me, I have the responsibility to _______”.

The final part challenges readers to come up with their own examples of rights and responsibilities which correspond to the chapter at hand.

Understanding the connection between rights and responsibilities helps prepare teens for the challenges that come with life and gives them greater insight into how different situations can and should be dealt with. It also prepares them to play their part and leave the world a better place than they found it.

This is a practical workbook helping any young person learn interactively and to understand concepts like civil responsibility and respect for others as well as self esteem and confidence building. It’s a wonderful approach and refreshingly different. The book never lectures and seeks to get the teen reader to ask his own questions and answer them in a way that learning responsibility follows naturally. I love this book and after reading and using it I can fully recommend it to you! Order a copy now!

Read this already? I’d love to hear your comments below!

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