Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Court Upholds Search of School Aide’s Desk in Child Sex-Abuse Case, The School Law Blog – Education Week

A police search of an instructional aide’s school desk for evidence of inappropriate communications with an elementary student did not violate the Fourth Amendment, Maryland’s highest court has ruled.

The ruling came in the case of a special education “paraeducator” who was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and attempted sexual abuse, based entirely on a series of passionate notes and letters the aide had delivered to an 8-year-old girl at the school.

The aide, Karl Marshall Walker Jr., was 38 years old at the time the case unfolded. After a teacher found one inappropriate note in the girl’s possession, the police searched Walker’s desk in a common area of the school. With the school principal’s consent, police searched the desk and removed a box belonging to Walker. They obtained a warrant for that box, which contained notes from the 8-year-old girl to Walker.

 

Juvenile law restorative, not retributive: SC, The Peninsula

New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the Juvenile Justice Act providing for a special reformist approach towards a minor irrespective of the nature of crime committed by him or her, saying that the law aimed to save children in conflict from becoming hardened criminals.

“The essence of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the rules framed thereunder in 2007, is restorative and not retributive, providing for rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with law into the mainstream of society,” said an apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar.

Chief Justice Kabir said: “There are, of course, exceptions where a child in the age group of 16-18 may have developed criminal propensities, which would make it virtually impossible for him/her to be reintegrated into mainstream society, but such examples are not of such proportions as to warrant any change in thinking…”

“…It is probably better to try and reintegrate children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than to allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which does not augur well for the future,” the court said.

Assault Charges for Stepmother After a Girl Falls, NYTimes.com

The stepmother of a 7-year-old girl who was critically injured this month when she fell from a sixth-floor window in Brooklyn has been arrested on assault charges, the police said on Thursday.

On July 10, the woman, Diana Metellus, 19, beat the girl with a belt, then left her unsupervised in a room with no window guards, the police said. Ms. Metellus faces charges including assault with a weapon and acting in a manner injurious toward a child.

The child, who suffered injuries to her lungs, brain and pelvis in the fall, was later found with signs of abuse and traces of cannabis, methadone and amphetamines in her system, the authorities said.

In Tamil Nadu, Nearly 150 Hospitalized After Eating School Lunch, NYTimes.com

NEW DELHI— As many as 147 school girls were hospitalized on Thursday after eating a free lunch at a government school in Tamil Nadu, the local hospital authorities said.

The children from an all-girls high school in Neyveli township in the Cuddalore district complained of dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea soon after they ate a meal of sambar (a spicy lentil broth) and rice, said Dr. Pattu Ravi, a general superintendent at Neyveli General Hospital. He also said that some of those admitted had been given bread for lunch.

The students, ages 12 to 15, received emergency treatment after they were brought into the hospital Thursday afternoon in groups. Describing it as a simple case of “food infection,” Dr. Ravi said none of the patients were in critical condition. After keeping them under observation overnight, the children are likely to be discharged Friday morning, he said.

Dr. Ravi declined to confirm local media reports that identified contaminated eggs as the cause of the illness.

This incident raised alarms as it came a day after more than 20 children in Bihar died from eating a government school lunch believed to have been prepared with cooking oil stored in a pesticide container. One more child died Thursday, bringing the death toll to 23, and nearly two dozen children are still hospitalized.

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.