Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Boy Scouts Delay Decision on Policy Excluding Gays, Houston Chronicle

Caught in an ideological crossfire, the Boy Scouts of America is putting off until May a decision on whether to ease its policy of excluding gays. Whatever the organization eventually does, it’s likely to anger major constituencies and worsen schisms within Scouting.

The delay, which the Scouts attributed to “the complexity of this issue,” was announced Wednesday after closed-door deliberations by the BSA’s national executive board. Under consideration was a proposal to ease the longstanding ban on gays by allowing sponsors of local troops to decide for themselves on the membership of gay Scouts and adult leaders.

DebraLee Hovey Calling for New Tax on Violent Video Games to Fund Mental Health Services, Hartford Courant

State Rep. DebraLee Hovey, a Republican whose district includes Sandy Hook, is proposing a new sales tax on video games rated “mature.”

Hovey is calling for a 10 percent tax; all of the money would be earmarked for the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to pay for material to educate parents and others about the dangers of violent video games.

Specifically, the material will aim to “educate families on the warning signs of video game addiction and antisocial behavior,” the bill states.

Man Seeking Sex from Texas Girls gets Prison, Houston Chronicle

Prosecutors say an ex-Oklahoma City man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for online encounters that he thought would lead to sex with Texas girls.

A federal judge in Dallas on Wednesday afternoon sentenced 36-year-old Andrew Dale McKee. McKee in October pleaded guilty to transferring obscene material to a minor.

McKee last April contacted a 14-year-old Dallas-area girl via Facebook and texted her a sexually explicit photo and messages. Prosecutors say McKee asked her to find another girl to also have online sexual conversations and eventually meet.

Missouri Teen Found Handcuffed in Family Basement, CNN

Neighbors expressed shock as details emerged Wednesday in the case of a 17-year-old Missouri boy found handcuffed to a stainless steel support pole in his family’s basement. He had been there since September, police say.

Friends and neighbors said the Kansas City teen was mentally challenged, and they were heartbroken to see him taken by ambulance to a hospital.

“You give birth to this child and you are going to handcuff it and lock it and not feed it and not give him water? How do you not take care of your child?” said Ashley Reppy, who lives close to the family and spoke to CNN affiliate KSHB Wednesday.

In a police report released Wednesday, officers described the victim as dressed in dirty clothes and his “face was sunken in on the sides and his eyes had a look of desperation.”

Teen Accused of Bringing Replica Handgun to School, Houston Chronicle

A Bellevue teen faces charges after police say he brought a pellet gun that looks like the real thing to his high school.

Omaha television station KETV reports (http://bit.ly/WR4Q1B) that police were called to Bellevue East High School on Wednesday after a teacher saw what looked like a handgun in a 17-year-old student’s possession.

The school was evacuated, and officers detained the student on school property during an after-school program.

Armed Guards are Not the Answer

http://youthvoices.net/discussion/armed-security-guards-school

Several gun shooting tragedies have plagued this nation in the last year. It seems that nowadays, each month there is a new shooting at a different school or public place. This past week, a local Houston DJ said on the air that regrettably, she is no longer surprised when she hears about a new shooting because they have become so common. In response to the seemingly increasing number of shootings, the N.R.A. announced its plan to end these tragedies.

According to a New York Times article by Eric Lichtblau and Motoko Rich, “N.R.A. Envisions ‘a Good Guy With a Gun’ in Every School,” the N.R.A. first blamed the recent shootings on “violent video games, the news media and lax law enforcement.” Then it announced that in order to cease shootings in schools, there should be armed security officers at every school in the country. The N.R.A. even called on Congress to make this plan happen. About a week later, the N.R.A. President clarified the original position of the group saying that “Whether an individual school wants that kind of protection or doesn’t want that kind of protection is really up to the individual school.”

Currently, about a third of the public schools in the country have some sort of armed security. However, after the N.R.A.’s call to arms, many more schools are considering it, including the school district I grew up in.  However, not everyone agrees that schools should employ armed guards. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that arming schools would not make them safer.  Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy said that “Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom.” The New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that he “doesn’t think you’re going to be able to stop someone bent on suicide just by having an armed person there.” Additionally, there was an armed guard during the Columbine tragedy, but that did not stop the shooting.

Another concern about armed guards in schools is the risk of someone else getting a hold of their firearms. In fact, just a couple weeks ago, a Michigan armed guard left his firearm, thankfully unloaded, in a bathroom used by students. Putting more guns in schools is not the answer to keeping our children safe at school, the mall, or the movie theater. I couldn’t say it any better than the reigning Miss America, Mallory Hagan, when she answered an interview question about armed guards in schools during the competition with “I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence.”

Yes, these tragedies are all too common and should not be happening. Yes, our schools need to be safe. However, the answer is not armed guards. What is the answer you may ask? There may not be a clear cut answer and that is terrifying, but what is more terrifying is putting more guns in our schools. A solution to stop school shootings will depend on each individual school and its environment. However, an across the board hiring of armed guards is not the correct solution to this problem.

Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Teen Shooter Targeted Two Classmates He Believed Bullied Him at Taft Union High School in CA, NY Daily News

A student who believed he was the victim of bullying opened fire with a shotgun in a central California high school on Thursday, critically wounding one student and narrowly missing another before being talked down by a “heroic” teacher, law enforcement said.  The teacher suffered a pellet to the head and is expected to recover, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said during a news conference. At least two other students were lightly hurt in the panic after shots erupted around 9:30 a.m. inside Taft Union High School, in Taft, Calif., about 40 miles south of Bakersfield.

Youngblood told reporters that he could not confirm whether the suspect had indeed been bullied at the school.

Phoenix Group Targets Graffiti Laws, The Arizona Republic

As Arizona cities, lobbyists, unions and activist groups firm up their legislative goals for 2013, a group of Phoenix residents is looking for a little help with graffiti.

Phoenix’s Anti-Graffiti Task Force hopes the Legislature, which convenes Monday, will consider a proposal that includes additional penalties for offenders and new requirements for stores that sell graffiti materials.

Vatican Criticizes Court Ruling on Gays’ Children, The Seattle Times

The Vatican is pressing its opposition to gay marriage, insisting Saturday that children should grow up with a father and a mother after Italy’s high court upheld a lower court ruling and granted custody of a child to his gay mother.

In its decision Friday, the Court of Cassation said there was no “scientific certainty or experience-based data” to support the father’s claims that the child’s development was being damaged by living with his mother and her female partner. Such an argument was “mere prejudice,” the court said.