Weekly Roundup

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is linked to delayed brain development, The Washington Post

For the first time, scientists can point to substantial empirical evidence that people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder have brain structures that differ from those of people without ADHD. The common disorder, they conclude, should be considered a problem of delayed brain maturation and not, as it is often portrayed, a problem of motivation or parenting. Read more.

Depression Strikes Today’s Teen Girls Especially Hard, NPR

It’s tough to be a teenager. Hormones kick in, peer pressures escalate and academic expectations loom large. Kids become more aware of their environment in the teen years — down the block and online. The whole mix of changes can increase stress, anxiety and the risk of depression among all teens, research has long shown.

But a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests many more teenage girls in the U.S. may be experiencing major depressive episodes at this age than boys. And the numbers of teens affected took a particularly big jump after 2011, the scientists note, suggesting that the increasing dependence on social media by this age group may be exacerbating the problem. Read more.

School district chiefs: Proposed Medicaid changes would hurt poor children and students with disabilities, The Washington Post

A new survey of school district leaders across the country finds that they are deeply worried that Republican proposals to refinance Medicaid, if they become law, would hurt students who live in poverty and those with disabilities and in special education. Read more.

Student Discipline in Schools: Part of the Problem or the Solution?, Campus Safety

More and more school districts and local officials around the country are considering revising their student disciplinary policies.

The efforts reflect a change in the approach to fostering a positive school climate that has gained support as additional research has come out on the impact on certain punishments on children.

An increasing number of organizations have begun supporting alternatives to long-used methods of student punishment like expulsion, suspension, restraint and seclusion.

Most notably, the Department of Education has begun actively promoting school environments that are safe, supportive and conductive to learning. Read more.

Study: Listening to youths could improve justice system, TribLive

Allegheny County could improve its juvenile justice system — along with the lives of the region’s poorest and most vulnerable children — by doing more to listen to juvenile offenders, identify disruptions in their home lives and incorporate their input into policymaking, a report published Monday found.

The Pittsburgh Foundation announced the completion of an eight-month study that involved partnering with community-based nonprofits to interview 53 youths and young adults with former or active cases in the county’s juvenile justice system. Foundation officials expect the 31-page report’s findings to spur grantmaking opportunities and community partnerships. Read more.

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Weekly Roundup

Minority juvenile offenders face inequities in mental health treatment, The Dallas Morning News

Every day, our jails and prisons take in large numbers of offenders who have serious mental health issues. But how good are we in diagnosing and treating their illnesses? Traditionally, not very good, and the record gets worse with respect to providing the most appropriate treatment. And as a recent study that I was part of published in the Journal of Youth & Adolescence showed, it is even more distressing when we examined diagnosis and treatment among racial/ethnic groups. Read more.

Youth advocates alarmed by proposed pharmacy robbery bill, Indianapolis Reporter

A proposed amendment that would automatically move certain juvenile robbery suspects to adult court is raising alarm among youth advocates.

Senate Bill 170, written by Republican State Sen. Michael Young, who represents District 35, would amend the so-called “direct file statute” to include pharmacy robbery among the list of juvenile offenses sent directly to adult court. That list currently includes attempted murder, murder, rape and other crimes. In the law’s current iteration, robbery is only included in the statute if it involves a deadly weapon or bodily injury. Read more.

Obama’s Legacy on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice, Social Justice Solutions

President Barack Obama exits stage right on Friday after presiding over one of the most interesting periods in American history. He leaves with a high approval rating, yet transfers power to a man who vows to undo much of the work done by his administration.

Child welfare and juvenile justice were decidedly not front and center for this administration, or any of the administrations that came before it. But Obama will leave office with a legacy of action in both realms. Read more.

Being incarcerated as a juvenile tied to poor health years later, Reuters

People incarcerated as juveniles may have worse physical and mental health as adults than youths who did not spend time in detention centers or correctional facilities, according to a new study. Read more.

www.forcesociety.com

www.forcesociety.com

Weekly Round Up

www.forcesociety.com

ExtractAdam Foss wants to reinvent the cycle that defines the American criminal justice system. The former Boston-area prosecutor spent more than six years as an assistant district attorney, mostly working in the juvenile division. Prosecutors, he said, play a pivotal role in our justice system — they wield the power to offer alternative sentencing and diversion programs for young people. According to Foss, prison isn’t always the answer. Globally, the U.S. incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country, with more than 2.2 million individuals currently behind bars. It’s a phenomenon that affects blacks and Latinos at a vastly disproportionate rate than white offenders.”

[…]

“Prosecutor Integrity and Legend’s #FreeAmerica campaign are part of a larger, growing movement among the creative community to tackle America’s mass incarceration epidemic. Of the millions of youth arrested each year, 95 percent are arrested for nonviolent crimes, including truancy, “criminal mischief” and other low level offenses. These are offenses that, all too often, land black and brown youth in court, stigmatizing minors with cases that aren’t worthy of a criminal record.”

Extract “Although certain kinds of crimes may rise during the summer months — for juveniles it may be crimes such as theft of bikes, there isn’t enough solid national data to suggest that summer crime waves among juveniles are a real source of concern. And contrary to popular belief, the spike in crime typically doesn’t happen after curfew. Although the spike in violent crime by juvenile offenders tends to happen at 3 pm on school days and 7 to 9 pm on non-school days, 63 percent of violent crimes happen on school days according to U.S. Department of Justice data.

To make matters worse, although this kind of summer activity is pretty common across race and social class, according to a paper from the Annie Casey Foundation, the kids being penalized for it are usually low-income and children of color. That’s because curfew laws are enforced in predominantly black and Hispanic and low-income neighborhoods.”

“The Gambia and Tanzania have banned child marriage, with tough penalties for those who breach the rulings. Gambia’s President Yayha Jammeh announced that anyone marrying a girl below 18 would be jailed for up to 20 years. In Tanzania, the high court imposed a landmark ruling outlawing marriage under the age of 18 for boys and girls. Some 30% of underage girls are married in The Gambia, while in Tanzania the rate is 37%.Before the Tanzania ruling, girls as young as 14 could marry with parental consent, while it was 18 for boys. The BBC’s Tulanana Bohela in Dar es Salaam says this is a big win for child rights groups and activists, who will now have an easier time rescuing girls from child marriage. The case was brought by lobby group Msichana Initiative. Gambia’s President speaking at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the end of Ramadan, said parents and imams who perform the ceremonies would also face prison. “If you want to know whether what I am saying is true or not, try it tomorrow and see,” he warned. Women’s rights campaigners have welcomed the ban, however some say that it would be better to engage with local communities to try to change attitudes towards child marriage instead of threatening families with prison sentences, “I don’t think locking parents up is the answer… it could lead to a major backlash and sabotage the ban,” Isatou Jeng of the women’s rights organisation Girls Agenda told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the Gambian capital, Banjul. In December last year, Mr Jammeh also outlawed female genital mutilation (FGM), with a prison sentence of up to three years for those that ignored the ban. He said the practice had no place in Islam or in modern society. Three-quarters of women in the mostly Muslim country have had the procedure, according to Unicef.