School Resource Officers: A Topic of Hot Debate, Even Prior to Sandy Hook

In the aftermath of the deadly shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., intense public debate has focused on protecting students – and the role of student resource officers (SROs), in particular – in the event of future shooting sprees. Generally, school resource officers are local law enforcement officers appointed to patrol schools and handle juvenile disciplinary issues. The effectiveness of SROs is highly debated. A National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) report claims the presence of SROs has reduced juvenile arrests in some schools by nearly 50 percent. On the other hand, the Justice Policy Institute issued a report that found SROs had little effect on curbing criminal activity in schools, and may even lead to inflated, and potentially unnecessary, juvenile arrests.

Aging Out of Foster Care: Georgia Challenge, National Problem

The future is uncertain for 700 Georgia teens in foster care who will turn 18 in the next year. They have a big decision to make – whether to go out on their own, or remain with a foster family. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien profiles an Atlanta teen and the choice he faces. We hear from DHS Commissioner B.J. Walker, and Cathy Colbenson, CEO of CHRIS Kids, who warns that a quarter of the young people who age out become homeless within two years. This is not just a Georgia problem. There are 400,000 children in foster care across the nation.

Atlanta Church Facing Eviction To Serve Free Thanksgiving Meal

The looming threat of eviction is not stopping a metro Atlanta church that provides multiple programs for at-risk youth from feeding the hungry for Thanksgiving. The Atlanta Urban Foursquare Church (AUC) is facing eviction from its building owned by the United Methodist Church, but church leaders say they still plan to move forward with its annual Thanksgiving meal for the poor next week. “We want to invest in souls; that’s the purpose of this church, to invest in souls,” says Pastor Mark Anthony Mitchell, a former drug dealer who turned his life around and earned a masters degree from Harvard Divinity SchoolSchool.  Watch CNN’s interview with Mitchell:

Under Mitchell’s leadership, the church has earned a reputation as a “beacon of hope” in the economically challenged Lakewood community and surrounding neighborhoods. It’s been particularly welcoming to area residents who have served time in prison and need help re-entering society. AUC also houses a free pre-school and after school program along with hosting a mentoring and sponsorship program for ex-offenders.

17 States Fight Craigslist "Adult Services"

Attorneys General in 17 states have teamed up to try to get rid of the Craigslist’s “adult services” section, according to a CNN report. As we reported earlier this month, the popular “adult services” section has been scrutinized because of ads that exploit women and underage girls.  The attorneys general addressed Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and founder Craig Newmark in a scathing letter on Tuesday. The increasingly sharp public criticism of Craigslist’s Adult Services section reflects a growing recognition that ads for prostitution — including ads trafficking children — are rampant on it. They go on to highlight an open letter that two girls wrote to Craigslist in July about being trafficked through the site.  The Attorneys also mention CNN Amber Lyon’s report which questions Craigslist’s screening methods. A Craigslist representative told CNN that they agree with some of the letter and hope to work with the attorneys general to stop child and women trafficking.

Threatening Letters Keep Teen Killer in Prison

At 13-years-old, Billy Ray White was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus 10 years for armed robbery, theft of a motor vehicle and the murder of J.D. Hall in Douglasville, GA.  Four years later, White wrote threatening letters to Hall’s family.  Now, 15 years later, they are fighting his possible release.  CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg reports. In a handwritten letter to J.D. Hall’s daughter, the convicted killer promised to carve her up like a turkey and make her head into a flower pot.  In another letter to Hall’s son, he said he would put him through a meat grinder and force his relatives to eat him. You can run but you can’t hide.  You can go to the police, but they can’t protect you.  You can change your name, address, or even move, but I will always find you,” he wrote in a letter postmarked May 15, 1989.  “They can’t keep me in here for the rest of my life.”
White has admitted to writing the letters and that they were a “stupid thing.”  His sister stands up for him, saying that he was the product of alcoholic parents who neglected and abused him, and that he deserves a chance to prove he’s changed

The Georgia Parole Board has refused to release him six times, the last time in June.  He comes up for parole again in April. Click here for Grinberg’s full story.

Cartoon Net Fights Bullying

Cartoon Network will launch a Bullying Prevention Campaign in October called Stop Bullying: Speak Up.  A series of public service announcements will target young people who often witness bullying and urge them to take action.  According to a company news release, “Bystanders represent the 75-85% of students in schools that witness incidents of bullying every year, whether on the playground, in the classroom, on the bus, on social media websites, or cell phones.”

Cartoon Network execs made the announcement at the National Bullying Prevention Summit in Washington today. Campaign partners include sister company CNN, and the Anti-Defamation League, which released it’s own set of recommendations to fight bullying, as well.

Craigslist Sex Ad Investigation

The internet has become the favorite place to sell women for sex, according to a CNN report. Now there is a national campaign against Craigslist and its popular “adult services” section. Police and anti- sex trafficking groups are pushing to end the “adult services” ads, arguing that underage girls are being exploited. “Craigslist is like the Wal-Mart of online sex trafficking right now in this country,” said Andrea Powell of the anti-trafficking group The Fair Fund. Watch CNN reporter Amber Lyon grill Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, about sex ad’s on his site.

New Alarm on Robo Tripping

There are new warnings about the dangers facing teens who get high on cough medicine.  CNN reports that children are showing up in hospital emergency rooms after mixing cough medicines with stimulants, such as energy drinks and prescription drugs that treat ADHD.  The symptoms include hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and numbness in hands and feet. The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that 1 in 11 teens admits to Robo tripping.  The high comes from taking very large doses of OTC medicines that contain dextromethorphan, an active ingredient in more than 125 cold and cough medicines, including Robitussin.  Kids also call the practice Dexing, Skittling, and DXM-ing. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says high doses of dextromethorphan, or DXM, affect the same parts of the brain targeted by ketamine or PCP.  These are considered “dissociative” drugs, which make people feel disconnected from their normal selves.  The effect of DXM is similar. Click here to listen to teens describe their experiences with Robo tripping.