Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Being Female in a System Designed for Boys, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

NEW YORK — On a recent Friday, 16-year-old Makala woke up and put on yellow skinny jeans and a trim black jacket — a stylish outfit that marked her temporary freedom.

[Listen to the audio interview here: Interview with Makala]

Until recently, most days Makala wore khakis and a green shirt to satisfy the dress code during a 10-month sentence at The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Good behavior had earned her a home pass to visit family a few weeks before her mid-April release.

Since her first arrest at age 12, Makala, whose last name is not used because she is a minor, has bounced through a number of placement and transition programs. As she recounted her time in the system she absent mindedly tore a reporter’s business card into tiny pieces. She described a menacing environment, rife with constant threats.

Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities, ChildLaw Blog,

According to the 2010 Administration on Children Youth and Families (ACYF) report, more than 3 million reports of child maltreatment were made in 2009. Of those cases, 10 percent involved sexual abuse, and 11 percent of sexual abuse victims reported having a disability.

The Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization and Safety recently partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women to research factors contributing to the sexual abuse of children with disabilities and determine possible action steps for prevention.

In Illinois, A Season of Restorative Justice, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

It has been a good spring for juvenile justice in Illinois. In a year of great fiscal challenge, the General Assembly approved Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal to double funding for Redeploy Illinois, a successful program helping teens get services in their communities instead of behind sent away to distant prisons.  Legislators also passed a bill to customize Redeploy programs for Cook County neighborhoods and bring the diversion program to the state’s largest county for the first time.

In addition, lawmakers approved a bill raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 17 for young people charged with felonies. That was a huge victory propelled by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s well-researched report (“Raise the Age; Don’t Split the Difference”) and accomplished by the Juvenile Justice Initiative’s effort to create the largest advocacy collaboration in the state’s juvenile justice history. Those legislative moves forward were buttressed by an Illinois Supreme Court rule change, which was championed by the Illinois State Bar Association, giving priority to appeals of delinquency proceedings.

Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

‘Boy or Girl?’ Gender a New Challenge for Schools, Fox News

From the time they are born, we put our boys in blue beanies and our girls in pink ones. It’s a societal norm, an expectation even, that you just are what you are born – a boy or a girl.

From early on, we divide toys and activities by very distinct gender lines, with superheroes and trucks and muck on one side and princesses and dolls and all things frilly on the other.

Many children land, enthusiastically, on the expected side. Others dabble in both “girl” and “boy” things. But what if your kid, even from an early age, mostly showed interest in doing opposite-gender things? More importantly, what if they wanted to be the opposite gender – or a less-defined mix of both? And what if they wanted to test those limits in public places, like school?

Report: Nation’s Kids Need to Get More Physical, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reading, writing, arithmetic — and PE?

The prestigious Institute of Medicine is recommending that schools provide opportunities for at least 60 minutes of physical activityeach day for students and that PE become a core subject.

Bipolar Disorder Tied to Mother’s Flu in Pregnancy, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Children born after being exposed to the flu during pregnancy may have a nearly four-fold higher risk of later developing bipolar disorder, according to a small new study.

The senior researcher said the results can’t prove that a mother’s bout of flu while pregnant causes her child to develop the mental disorder, but the association does suggest that some cases might be prevented.

Amendments to Juvenile Justice Law Near Approval, Inquirer News

Authorities may soon keep repeat or serious offenders aged 12 to 15 years old off the streets and in the custody of social workers, according to draft amendments to the law on juvenile delinquents, which are up for approval by both chambers of Congress next week.