Weekly Roundup

Rampant Human Rights Violations of Children Internationally

On October 31, 2017, the United Security Council met to discuss their deep concern for international abuse of children. The Council said that it is “gravely concerned by the scale and severity” of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed against children in some countries, including terrorism, mass abductions, and sexual slavery, which can cause displacement and affect access to education and healthcare services. You can read more about the Council meeting here. Attached was a report that chronicles the high number of child casualties in Afghanistan. Additionally, 50 children have already been killed in Jamaica this calendar year and you can read more about that here. These human rights violations don’t just stop with homicide, as lack of access to education is another disheartening disparity. You can read about the President of Tanzania banning pregnant girls from school here.

Surrogate Mother wins Custody Battle for Biological Son

In Perris, California, surrogate Jessica Allen gave birth to two healthy children she believed to be twins. It turned out that one of those babies was actually her biological child. This happened as a result of what is called superfetation, and it occurs when a woman continues to ovulate after becoming pregnant, resulting in two babies with different gestational ages and, in this case, two different sets of genetic parents. This only happens in 1 in several million pregnancies. Allen reported that after a complicated process, she and her husband Wardell Jasper got custody of their son in February. You can read more about this medical marvel and custody battle here.

States in the U.S. Seek to End Child Marriage

Though many U.S. officials are critical of child marriage abroad, we are guilty of allowing the exact same practice right in our own backyard. In 25 states in the United States there are no minimum age requirements to wed, while in the others, the age requirement ranges from 13-17 years old. Child marriage correlates with domestic violence, psychiatric disorders, dropping out of high-school, poverty and financial instability, and early stress that leads to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. That is exactly why Human Rights Watch has launched a campaign to support a bill that could potentially end child marriage in Florida. As it stands now, pregnant girls in Florida can get married at any age if a judge approves it. You can learn more about child marriage in the U.S. here.

Weekly Roundup

Wisconsin Federal Court Finds Conditions at Juvenile Facilities Unconstitutional

Last week, a Wisconsin Federal Court found the conditions of confinement at two juvenile youth facilities in Wisconsin, Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools, to be unconstitutional. These facilities used punitive solitary confinement, pepper spray, and restraints on incarcerated youth. Western District Judge Peterson found these conditions violated the youths’ constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. “‘The Court’s ruling today will protect youth from harmful, degrading, and unconstitutional practices,’ said Jessica Feierman, Associate Director of Juvenile Law Center. ‘Young people in Wisconsin – and across the country – deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not locked up and deprived of exercise, recreation, social contact, and educational programming.’” Click here for more information.

World Refugee Day

Tuesday, June 20 was World Refugee Day, a day to “commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees.” Read more here. “This [is] not about sharing a burden. It is about sharing a global responsibility, based not only [on] the broad idea of our common humanity but also on the very specific obligations of international law. The root problems are war and hatred, not people who flee; refugees are among the first victims of terrorism.”—UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. Click here for practical ways to show love and kindness to refugees and immigrants.

Snapchat Introduces Risky Location Sharing Feature

Snapchat introduced a feature, Snap Map, that shares users’ locations and allows users to scroll around a map to find their friends. Read about it here. This new feature raises privacy concerns, especially for children and younger teens. Younger users may not be aware that their locations are being shared and do not know how to change the setting to private. The commands to enable the new feature are vague, and many users inadvertently turn it on. Then, they broadcast their locations to all of their Snapchat friends every time they open the app. Click here for more information on this privacy threat. Read here to learn about the concerns some police forces have about the new feature and about how to turn on “Ghost Mode,” which hides users’ locations.

Weekly Round Up

www.forcesociety.com

ExtractAdam Foss wants to reinvent the cycle that defines the American criminal justice system. The former Boston-area prosecutor spent more than six years as an assistant district attorney, mostly working in the juvenile division. Prosecutors, he said, play a pivotal role in our justice system — they wield the power to offer alternative sentencing and diversion programs for young people. According to Foss, prison isn’t always the answer. Globally, the U.S. incarcerates people at a higher rate than any other country, with more than 2.2 million individuals currently behind bars. It’s a phenomenon that affects blacks and Latinos at a vastly disproportionate rate than white offenders.”

[…]

“Prosecutor Integrity and Legend’s #FreeAmerica campaign are part of a larger, growing movement among the creative community to tackle America’s mass incarceration epidemic. Of the millions of youth arrested each year, 95 percent are arrested for nonviolent crimes, including truancy, “criminal mischief” and other low level offenses. These are offenses that, all too often, land black and brown youth in court, stigmatizing minors with cases that aren’t worthy of a criminal record.”

Extract “Although certain kinds of crimes may rise during the summer months — for juveniles it may be crimes such as theft of bikes, there isn’t enough solid national data to suggest that summer crime waves among juveniles are a real source of concern. And contrary to popular belief, the spike in crime typically doesn’t happen after curfew. Although the spike in violent crime by juvenile offenders tends to happen at 3 pm on school days and 7 to 9 pm on non-school days, 63 percent of violent crimes happen on school days according to U.S. Department of Justice data.

To make matters worse, although this kind of summer activity is pretty common across race and social class, according to a paper from the Annie Casey Foundation, the kids being penalized for it are usually low-income and children of color. That’s because curfew laws are enforced in predominantly black and Hispanic and low-income neighborhoods.”

“The Gambia and Tanzania have banned child marriage, with tough penalties for those who breach the rulings. Gambia’s President Yayha Jammeh announced that anyone marrying a girl below 18 would be jailed for up to 20 years. In Tanzania, the high court imposed a landmark ruling outlawing marriage under the age of 18 for boys and girls. Some 30% of underage girls are married in The Gambia, while in Tanzania the rate is 37%.Before the Tanzania ruling, girls as young as 14 could marry with parental consent, while it was 18 for boys. The BBC’s Tulanana Bohela in Dar es Salaam says this is a big win for child rights groups and activists, who will now have an easier time rescuing girls from child marriage. The case was brought by lobby group Msichana Initiative. Gambia’s President speaking at the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the end of Ramadan, said parents and imams who perform the ceremonies would also face prison. “If you want to know whether what I am saying is true or not, try it tomorrow and see,” he warned. Women’s rights campaigners have welcomed the ban, however some say that it would be better to engage with local communities to try to change attitudes towards child marriage instead of threatening families with prison sentences, “I don’t think locking parents up is the answer… it could lead to a major backlash and sabotage the ban,” Isatou Jeng of the women’s rights organisation Girls Agenda told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from the Gambian capital, Banjul. In December last year, Mr Jammeh also outlawed female genital mutilation (FGM), with a prison sentence of up to three years for those that ignored the ban. He said the practice had no place in Islam or in modern society. Three-quarters of women in the mostly Muslim country have had the procedure, according to Unicef.