Tuesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Special Session Will Decide Maximum Sentence for Juveniles, KFDA

Amarillo, TX – Sentencing a juvenile to life without parole is unconstitutional, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.  And now Texas lawmakers are deciding how to change state law to abide by federal law.

Last year, SCOTUS ruled life without parole for someone under the age of 18 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and is therefore a violation of the Eighth Amendment.

So Texas, along with several other states, is tweaking its own statutes to stay within federal guidelines.  One of the items on the table in Austin in this year’s special session is Senate Bill 23, which would set the maximum sentence for a juvenile offender at life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

The Human Voice May Not Spark Pleasure in Children with Autism, NPR

The human voice appears to trigger pleasure circuits in the brains of typical kids, but not children with autism, a Stanford University team reports. The finding could explain why many children with autism seem indifferent to spoken words.

The Stanford team used functional MRI to compare the brains of 20 children who had autism spectrum disorders and 19 typical kids. In the typical kids there was a strong connection between areas that respond to the human voice and areas that release the feel-good chemical dopamine, says Vinod Menon of the Stanford University School of Medicine. But “the strength of this coupling is reduced in children with autism,” he says.

Minority Children with Autism Lack Access to Specialists, CNN.com

African-American and Hispanic children are far less likely to be seen by specialists – for autism, but also other medical conditions – and also less likely to receive specialized medical tests than their white peers, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Controversial ‘Right-to-Die’ Legislation Passes in Netherlands . . . For Children, TheBlaze.com

Two European countries are considering or just passed laws that would extend the “right-to-die” to gravely ill children.

Now, in the Netherlands, parents who cannot bear to watch the suffering of their dying child can have doctors administer muscle relaxants that will bring on death quicker, the Dutch Press reported (via Google Translate).

Sibling Bullying Causes Mental Health Problems in Children, The Inquisitr

Sibling bullying is something that affects millions of people, especially children. In a recent study researchers questioned 3600 adolescents aged 10-17. The study found that 32% of the people questioned had experienced at least one type of sibling bullying in the last year.

The study showed that children who are bullied are at a much higher risk of developing mental health issues. It was also noted that regardless of how mild or severe the sibling bullying is, the effect on the child being bullied can be severe leading to various types of mental health issues.

Megan Mikutis

About Megan Mikutis

Megan Mikutis is a second year student at the University of Houston Law Center. She graduated from the University of Houston – Clear Lake in 2012 with a B.A. in Literature. While obtaining her undergraduate degree, Megan tutored undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students in writing while working for the University of Houston – Clear Lake Writing Center. This summer, Megan worked for the Center for Children, Law, and Policy and had the opportunity to compose a policy statement discussing the disproportionate representation of Limited English Proficient students in special education. Currently, Megan serves as the President of the Student Bar Association as well as a member of the Hispanic Law Student Association. Megan is most interested in education and special education issues.

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