The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention may be close to hiring a new administrator. California Superior Court Judge Kurt Kumli has been named as a candidate, according to a report in Youth Today. Kumli worked for 17 years in the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and spent 15 of those years focused on juvenile and child welfare issues. Governor Schwarzenegger appointed him to the bench in 2006. Kumli may not be well connected to the Obama administration, but Youth Today points out that he seems qualified considering his background in juvenile justice reform in California.
Kids experience a surprising amount of violence. More than 58 percent say violence has touched them in the past year and almost half of them turned to school officials, police or doctors for help. These numbers, from the University of New Hampshire, show that kids are reporting trouble to authorities more than ever before. Researchers surveyed more than 4,500 young people from ages 10 to 17 and asked them about their experiences with conventional crime, maltreatment, family abuse, sex abuse and other exposure to violence. The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found that school authorities generally knew about violent incidents first.
What teens say about their sex lives may not always be true and could jeopardize their health. Researchers have found inconsistencies between self-reported behaviors and laboratory-confirmed STD results. The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health surveyed more than 14,000 young people about their sexual activity. After completing the survey, they all submitted a urine sample to researchers. The results are astounding.
Child advocacy groups are always looking for new ways to make it clear to kids how laws and public policies affect them. A unique effort debuted last fall called I Got Arrested, Now What?, which explains the workings of the juvenile justice system by following a fictional teen through his experience. It’s in comic book form and unfolds like a poster. The Center for Urban Pedagogy is ready to help other organizations that work with kids to create and produce their own messages. The Center’s Making Policy Public project wants to match advocates with graphic designers who will help them create illustrative posters to simplify complicated policies for kids.
If you’re a change-maker in your community and under 40 years old, there’s a $100,000 prize that may have your name on it. Grinnell College, a private liberal arts school in Iowa (yes, Iowa…keep reading), is offering $100,000 to people who’ve shown “creativity, commitment and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change.”
What’s the prize? You could win $50,000 and another $50,000 for the organization of your choice. As many as three people a year can win the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize. As long as you were under 40 on January 1, you can apply.
The federal government is now pushing states to take part in two foster care programs that support guardianship placements and the extension of foster care up to age 21. The two programs are part of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which was passed in 2009 and allows for federal IV-E funds to be more freely used, according to Youth Today. According to the Act, teens will be eligible for these funds if they continue their education or get a job among other things. As JJIE.org reported last month, more than 700 fostered teens in Georgia turn 18 this year and face an uncertain future, and a quarter of young people who age out become homeless within two years. But Georgia has apparently not applied for the money that might help them.
January 6, 2011 Marietta, GA – The Cobb Alcohol Taskforce in conjunction with Cobb County School’s Prevention Intervention Center sponsored a Youth Voice and Vision Public Service Announcement contest for students in grades 6 through 12, representing school/community youth groups based in Cobb County. The 31 video entries submitted were 30, 60 or 90 seconds long and provided messages addressing the problem with adults providing alcohol to minors. The contest was kicked off at the start of Red Ribbon Week in October. The public was invited to begin viewing and voting for their favorite youth video entries online at www.schooltube.com/user/sources. The entries are in the Favorites section (click view all).
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people are up to seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers and transgender kids also have higher rates of suicidal behavior. This information comes from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center and spurred the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (NSSP) to launch a new task force that targets LGBT young people. The Alliance was created last September as a partnership with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Department of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Several suicides involving LGBT teens made headlines last year. The most notable may be the Rutgers University freshman who jumped to his death from a bridge after his private encounter with another boy was posted on the Internet.
Kids are still being paddled in public schools in 20 states, including Georgia and African American students and children with disabilities are twice as likely to get a spanking. That’s according to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) who brought the nationwide “Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act” before Congress last year. Elementary school children are also more likely to get paddled than high school kids. New attention on the issue comes from Texas. Last month an advocacy group called The Hitting Stops Here rallied against corporal punishment in Texas public schools, according to KETK-TV.
Forty-five states now have laws against bullying and harassment in schools, including Georgia. The Department of Education sent out a memo last month reiterating that all incidents of bullying and harassment be addressed immediately and effectively. In the memo Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, also addressed key components of bullying laws in several states. Here are some interesting highlights:
Oklahoma has linked bullying to antisocial behavior such as vandalism, shoplifting, fighting and drug and alcohol abuse. Indiana law addresses incidents taking place on school property, off school property and even cases involving equipment provided by the school.