marijuana

Frequent Marijuana Use Among Teens is Up

Heavy marijuana use among teens has increased drastically in recent years, with nearly one in 10 sparking up 20 times or more each month, according to a new survey of young Americans released this morning. The findings represent nearly an 80 percent increase in past-month heavy marijuana use among high school aged youth since 2008. Overall, the rate of marijuana use among teens has increased. Past month marijuana users, or teens that have used marijuana in the month prior to the survey, increased 42 percent, to 27 percent of teens, compared to 2008 findings. Past-year and lifetime use also increased, but not as drastically, at 26 percent and 21 percent respectively.

Department of Education

Education Data Shows Disproportionate Minority Discipline, Opportunity Gaps For Public School Students

Newly collected data from the Department of Education shows that minority students are disproportionately subject to harsher disciplinary actions in public schools than their peers and offers insight into opportunity gaps for public school students around the country. More than 70 percent of students involved in school arrests or law enforcement referrals were black or Hispanic, according to the report. Black students were three and half times more likely to be suspended or expelled than white peers, the New York Times reported. The Civil Rights Data Collection’s 2009-10 gathered statistics from 72,000 schools, serving about 85 percent of the nation’s students from kindergarten through high school. While the disciplinary data is probably the most dramatic, the statistics illustrated a range of racial and ethnic disparities.

SREB Middle Grades Report 2011 cover image

Southern States Must Address Middle Grades Education Immediately, Report Warns

Only about a quarter of rising ninth graders in the Southeastern United States will graduate high school on time, according to a new report from the Southern Regional Educational Board (SREB). “The middle grades are the make-or-break point of our K-12 public school system,” SREB President Dave Spence said in a press release. “If states are serious about raising graduation rates and preparing more students for postsecondary study, work has to begin now on the middle grades.”

The SREB is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established by regional governors and legislators to improve the public education system. The organization covers 16 states in the South and Southeast, working directly with state leaders, schools and educators to improve learning and student achievement from Pre-K to higher education. The 16 states covered by the SREB have made “good” progress in early grades achievement in recent years according to the report, but a number still lag behind national standards.

Opening slide to DCANP Sustainability Meetings

One Agency’s Budget Struggles Typical of Nation

Alabama’s only agency designated to prevent child abuse and neglect, among the many juvenile justice departments around the nation grappling with a smaller budget, will serve nearly half the number of kids in 2012 as they did in 2011. The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (DCANP) is preparing to cut 74 community-based programs around the state when the new budget takes effect October 1. The cuts bring the total number of programs to just 101 for FY 2012, compared to 227 funded in FY 2005. The reduction in services represents roughly 14,000 kids that will no longer have access to community-based prevention programs.

“I’m really concerned with the burden of the system as a whole,” says Kelley Parris-Barnes, director of the DCANP. “When you take the community-level programs out you don’t have the capacity in the state to do it.”

The DCANP doesn’t deliver services directly.

Mississippi Joins 38 Other States, Raises Juvenile Age to Eighteen

An amended law that took effect July 1 made Mississippi the latest state to rethink how youth under the age of 18 are handled in criminal court. The new measure prevents most 17-year-old misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenders from being tried as adults. Certain felonies including rape, murder and armed robbery may still warrant charges in the adult court system. Two other states, Connecticut and Illinois, passed similar reforms earlier this year bringing the national total to 39 states that view juveniles as any individual below the age of 18, according to a report issued last week by the Campaign for Youth Justice. “This is a good news report.” Liz Ryan, director of the Campaign for Youth Justice, — a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit focused on the issue — told USA Today.

California’s ‘Second Chance’ Bill Offers Hope for LWOP Sentenced Youth

A new proposal in California may provide a second chance for the roughly 227 inmates serving the sentence of life without parole for crimes committed before their 18th birthday. Under California’s Senate Bill 9, inmates sentenced to life without parole (LWOP) for crimes committed as a juvenile have the option to submit a petition for consideration of a new sentence after serving 15 years. If approved by the review court an LWOP sentence could be reduced to a stint of 25 years to life, a prison term that comes with the possibility of parole. “The neuroscience is clear – brain maturation continues well through adolescence and thus impulse control, planning, and critical thinking skills are not yet fully developed,” state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), a child psychologist and author of the bill, said through his office. “SB 9 reflects that science and provides the opportunity for compassion and rehabilitation that we should exercise with minors.

Juvenile Reforms Still Needed in Chicago, Advocates Say

Juvenile advocates and researchers in Illinois came together for a one-day workshop to discuss juvenile arrest data from the Austin and Lawndale neighborhoods of Chicago along with the alternatives to incarceration for juvenile offenders. Austin, Chicago’s largest neighborhood by population, ranked third in total juvenile arrests in 2010. The number of kids under the age of 17 arrested in Chicago has dropped in recent years, according to a report released by the First Defense Legal Aid and Project NIA during the seminar. But advocates say the system hasn’t changed enough and continues to disserve kids on the west side of the city, especially African Americans. In 2008 African Americans accounted for 78 percent of juvenile arrests in the city of Chicago, Hispanics for 18 percent and whites for just 3.5 percent, according to the same report.

On College Campuses, Hookahs Are Being Smoked Out

If you are concerned about your health, step away from the hookah.  The belief that the ornate water pipes are far safer than cigarettes may be going up in smoke.  Researchers found that the water in the hookah only filters 5 percent of the nicotine contained in the smoke. Hookahs are gaining in popularity on college campuses across the country and the American Lung Association is making anti-hookah legislation a top priority. “Teens and young adults are initiating tobacco use through these hookahs with the mistaken perception that the products are somehow safer or less harmful than cigarettes,” Paul G. Billings, a vice president of the American Lung Association, told the New York Times. “Clearly that’s not the case.”

The danger lies in how hookahs are smoked.  Hookah sessions usually last about an hour as hoses attached to the pipe are passed around.  In a typical session a smoker could inhale the equivalent of 100 cigarettes while also exposing themselves to tuberculosis and herpes through the communal hoses. Cities are beginning to take notice, passing ordinances to limit the amount of new hookah bars opening and college campuses are rewriting anti-smoking rules to outlaw hookahs.