Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Time to Have a Conversation About Race, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Can we have an open, honest discussion about race? I’m not making a request to have such a conversation, what I am wondering is if it is possible. There are a lot of obstacles. Media coverage, through where most people get their information, doesn’t always contribute to the discussion.

In this era of 24-hour news and intense competition for stories, outlets are tempted to skew stories in ways that emphasize or deemphasize race, and not always in a consistent fashion. The inconsistency is pretty easy to understand though; it boils down to the bottom line. Readers and viewers translate to money, and controversy is more entertaining than facts.

The recent case of George Zimmerman was full of examples. Many liberals thought he should be found guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, while many conservatives thought he hadn’t done anything wrong. The media didn’t help. It is clear for instance that NBC editors  altered the 911 call in a way that made Zimmerman appear racist. For many on the right end of the political spectrum (which is predominantly white) this was evidence of a liberal agenda. Let’s remember, though, this same media’s coverage of blacks, especially males, has perpetuated dangerous stereotypes. This isn’t just on Fox News either.

In Harlem, the Peaceful Ruckus of a Basketball Tournament to Remember Trayvon Martin and Sean Bell, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

NEW YORK — The thousands strong, raucous crowd grew louder and louder with each thunderous dunk in the storied basketball courts of Halcombe Rucker Park on 155th Street in Harlem earlier this week. Children sprinted up and down the sidelines with unbridled enthusiasm, unable to sit still amidst the intensity generated by New York City’s top two streetball teams pitted against each other for the rights to the inaugural, gold plated, championship trophy.


However, as the spirited madness swept through the stands Tuesday night, Tobias Harris remained somber.

The 21-year-old rising star for the NBA’s Orlando Magic and former Mr. New York Basketball helped lead the Sean Bell All-Stars to a first-place finish in the first annual Trayvon Martin Invitational, an accomplishment that Harris said ranks amongst the closest to his heart.

Harris, a Long Island native and current Orlando resident, lives just 10 miles from The Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community of Sanford, Fla., where Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on the night of February 26, 2012. Harris also spent most of his high school career at Half Hollow Hills West in Dix Hills, a 30-mile trek from Club Kalua in South Jamaica, Queens, where Sean Bell was shot and killed by NYPD detectives in the early morning hours of November 25, 2006.


Child Abuse in Army Families Rises 40 Percent.  What’s Being Done to Stop It, Children’s Rights

An investigation by the Army Times found 3,698 reported cases of child abuse and neglect in Army families last year, a staggering 40 percent increase from 2009. According to a Huffington Post report, the military has yet to come up with an explanation for the increase. Meanwhile, the cases of horrific child abuse and neglect keep mounting:

John E. Jackson, 37, a U.S. Army major and his wife, Carolyn, 35, were charged in May with “unimaginable cruelty to children,” NBC Philadelphia reported. The two allegedly abused their three adopted and three biological children, but the adopted kids bore the brunt of the torture.

According to the news source, the parents forced their kids to eat hot sauce, withheld water, broke the kids’ bones and told their biological children that such practices were a form of “training,” and that they should not tell anyone about the horrors they witnessed.Some of these cases are even unfolding on Army bases, as was the case with Pvt. Connell Williams’ family. Williams and his girlfriend killed one of her two children while living in Army housing:

It was there that Williams and his girlfriend starved Marcus, beat him with a bat and forced the little boy to march around wearing 50-60 pounds of gear, according to court documents obtained by the news outlet. Marcus died on May 5, 2011, weighing just 44 pounds.

The U.S. Army Family Advocacy Program offers seminars, workshops, counseling and intervention services to prevent such tragedies, and the Army is building child and behavioral health centers at major bases. However, significant obstacles stand in the way of more being done about this worsening problem.

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