Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Summer Jobs May Reduce Teen Violence, Study Says, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Summer jobs may help reduce violence, according to a recent study that found that low-income Boston teens who held down summer jobs were less likely to engage in violence than teens without jobs.

The study, conducted by researchers at Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, surveyed more than 400 young people who obtained employment last summer through a State Street Foundation youth violence prevention program.

During the initial survey, 3 percent of young people involved with the program reported either threatening or attacking another person with a gun in the month prior to beginning their summer jobs. By the end of the program, however, just 1 percent of participants reported attacking or threatening someone with a firearm in the last month of the study.

The Importance of Sensory Integration Therapy, Special Education Law Blog

Sensory integration therapy (SIT) has been one of the treatment mainstays for thousands of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, or other developmental disorders.  According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), approximately 5 to 15% of children in the general population have sensory processing issues.  School-based and private occupational therapists and parents have brushed, swung, and bounced on balls countless children in an effort to improve their ability to process sensory input.  Yet, the effectiveness of this therapy, despite accolades it has received from therapists and parents, has been questioned.  Now a new study by Lang et al that assesses the benefits of SIT by reviewing 25 existing studies adds additional fuel to the debate.  In a nutshell, the study authors state that SIT is neither effective nor research-based and that agencies (such as schools) that are mandated to provide research-based interventions should not be using SIT.

Kansas Merges Juvenile System and Adult Correctional System, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

This month, a merger of Kansas’s juvenile justice system and adult correctional system goes into effect, with the state’s Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) officially being incorporated into the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC.)

The consolidation is the result of an executive order proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback at the start of the state’s 2013 Legislative session. The merger, which took effect July 1, is strictly administrative; juvenile populations, while now under supervision from the KDOC, will not be combined with any adult correctional populations.

South Caroline is Faulted on Child Services, NYTimes.com

In South Carolina, people accused of sexually abusing children do not face trial for years. Children who report abuse are not interviewed for weeks. Churches often stand between victims and help.

Those were among the findings of a privately financed report that comes as South Carolina is working to shore up its child protective system. The state is facing lawsuits and legislative scrutiny after a series of deaths, rapes and other assaults on children who were in state custody.
The report was welcomed by Gov. Nikki R. Haley, who said it offered useful recommendations for improving how the state — both the government and its citizens — can better address childhood sexual trauma.

Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Juvenile Law Change Forbids Minors From Being Held in Adult Prison (Philadelphia) The Times Tribune

Juvenile justice advocates are applauding a rule change recently enacted by the state Supreme Court that precludes authorities from holding juveniles in adult prisons pending their appearance in juvenile court.

The rule, enacted on June 28, clarifies the definition of a detention facility to specifically prohibit county or state jails and extends the definition of a juvenile to include a minor who has been detained for violation of the terms of their probation.

The Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee suggested the rule change after learning of concerns that juveniles were sometimes being temporarily held in adult prisons pending a hearing in juvenile court to determine if the minor had committed the alleged violation that led to their detention.

Indiana High Court Increases Difficulty of Placing Minors on Sex Offender Registries, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

In a 5-0 decision, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled on Monday that before juvenile court judges can place minors on sex offender registries, evidentiary hearings must be held to determine whether the youth is likely to reoffend.

At the hearings, juvenile offenders must be given the opportunity to have counsel representation, be allowed to challenge evidence brought forth by prosecutors and present their own evidence, wrote Justice Loretta Rush in the court’s opinion.

“It is well within a trial court’s discretion to hold more than one hearing to determine whether a juvenile’s risk of re-offending warrants placing them on the sex offender registry,” Rush wrote. “But when it does so, every hearing held for that purpose must be an ‘evidentiary hearing…’ That is, juveniles must have the opportunity to challenge the State’s evidence and present evidence of their own.”

Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Student’s Questioning Violated Fourth Amendment, Court Rules, Education Week

A school resource officer violated the rights of an 8-year-old student when he detained the youth and intimidated him into crying, all to coax a confession from another student who was the real suspect in the theft of a dollar bill, the state’s highest court has ruled.

The Delaware Supreme Court held that the student was “seized” under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that the officer lacked immunity for his actions. The 3-0 ruling by a panel of the court also reinstated state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment against the officer, the state, and the Cape Henlopen school district.

Single Iranian Women Over 30 Can Adopt Girls, Tehran Times

The director of children and adolescence office at the Welfare Organization has announced that a regulation is being introduced that would allow single women over 30 to adopt girls.

Hamidreza Alvand, in an interview with the Persian service of the Mehr news published on Friday, said that the conditions under which single women over 30 could adopt girls are: having no criminal records in following Islamic rules, having good financial status, being in sound physical and psychological conditions, practicing one of the religions stated in the Iranian constitution, not having any sort of addiction to drugs or alcohol, and being free of sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and other sort of incurable diseases.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 4 million children and adolescents in this country suffer from a serious mental disorder that causes significant functional impairments at home, at school, or with peers.  Additionally, 21% of children between ages 9 and 17 have been diagnosed with a mental or addictive disorder that causes at least minimal impairment.  Despite this high prevalence rate, NAMI reports that in any given year, only 20% of children with a mental disorder are identified and treated. That’s a lot of kids to not receive treatment, and the consequences can be tragic.  Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among youth aged 15 to 24.  Of those children who commit suicide, over 90% have been diagnosed with a mental disorder.   Additionally, 50% of teens with a mental disorder will drop out of school.  Many of these youth will wind up in the criminal justice system.  The National Institute of Mental Health found that 65% of boys and 75% of girls in juvenile detention have at least one mental disorder.  And why are these children so undeserved?  Well one reason is that we continue to cut funding for mental health programs.  In the last three years, states have cut a combined $1.8 billion for mental health care from their budgets.  Additionally, in the last five years, we have eliminated 4,000 inpatient hospital beds.  Dr. Denise Dowd, who authored a paper on firearm-related injuries on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics, stated, “We have plenty of beds for kids with gunshot wounds, but a kid with a mental health problem, that’s another issue.  We don’t have beds for those kids.”  In addition, we have a woefully inadequate number of child and adolescent psychiatrists.  The federal government estimates that we will need 12,624 child and adolescent psychiatrists by the year 2020.  The projected number is just 8,312.  Currently, we have only 6,300 nationally.  Nebraska has only 30 child psychiatrists in the entire state, or one for every 11,000 children.