Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Here’s a look at today’s top stories affecting children’s rights, juvenile justice, and education:

NAACP Blasts Mace in Birmingham Schools, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE)

The NAACP launched an online petition this week, inviting people to lend their names to a campaign to end the use of pepper spray on students in Birmingham, Al. public schools.

“As long as we continue to treat students like criminals, they will grow up to become criminals,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a written statement.

The NAACP argues that Mace and pepper spray may be legitimate parts of an adult or crowd policing strategy, but are not acceptable for use on school children. Birmingham’s public school population is overwhelmingly African-American.

What About the Girls?, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE)

Juvenile crime has been declining for years and is now at historic lows. That’s the good news. The bad news is that girls are now the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system. Although the system is still dominated by boys, in 2009, girls made up 30 percent of all juvenile arrests; up from 20 percent in 2008. Two-thirds are girls of color.

Why this increase in girl delinquents? Program operators say there is a new kind of girl coming into their programs — girls who are more troubled than those they’ve worked with in the past.

Court Upholds School’s Use of Desk with Restraining Bar, Education Week

A Colorado school district’s use of a special desk with a restraining bar did not violate the federal constitutional rights of a young student with disabilities, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The court said the use of the U-shaped desk, with a wooden bar designed to keep a student from pushing back his or her chair, did not amount to an unconstitutional “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment. It also held that the exclusive use of the desks in special education classrooms did not violate the 14th Amendment equal-protection rights of students.

Children with Disabilities Get Mentions on Republican Stage, Education Week