Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Summer Jobs May Reduce Teen Violence, Study Says, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

Summer jobs may help reduce violence, according to a recent study that found that low-income Boston teens who held down summer jobs were less likely to engage in violence than teens without jobs.

The study, conducted by researchers at Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, surveyed more than 400 young people who obtained employment last summer through a State Street Foundation youth violence prevention program.

During the initial survey, 3 percent of young people involved with the program reported either threatening or attacking another person with a gun in the month prior to beginning their summer jobs. By the end of the program, however, just 1 percent of participants reported attacking or threatening someone with a firearm in the last month of the study.

The Importance of Sensory Integration Therapy, Special Education Law Blog

Sensory integration therapy (SIT) has been one of the treatment mainstays for thousands of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, or other developmental disorders.  According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), approximately 5 to 15% of children in the general population have sensory processing issues.  School-based and private occupational therapists and parents have brushed, swung, and bounced on balls countless children in an effort to improve their ability to process sensory input.  Yet, the effectiveness of this therapy, despite accolades it has received from therapists and parents, has been questioned.  Now a new study by Lang et al that assesses the benefits of SIT by reviewing 25 existing studies adds additional fuel to the debate.  In a nutshell, the study authors state that SIT is neither effective nor research-based and that agencies (such as schools) that are mandated to provide research-based interventions should not be using SIT.

Kansas Merges Juvenile System and Adult Correctional System, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

This month, a merger of Kansas’s juvenile justice system and adult correctional system goes into effect, with the state’s Juvenile Justice Authority (JJA) officially being incorporated into the Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC.)

The consolidation is the result of an executive order proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback at the start of the state’s 2013 Legislative session. The merger, which took effect July 1, is strictly administrative; juvenile populations, while now under supervision from the KDOC, will not be combined with any adult correctional populations.

South Caroline is Faulted on Child Services,

In South Carolina, people accused of sexually abusing children do not face trial for years. Children who report abuse are not interviewed for weeks. Churches often stand between victims and help.

Those were among the findings of a privately financed report that comes as South Carolina is working to shore up its child protective system. The state is facing lawsuits and legislative scrutiny after a series of deaths, rapes and other assaults on children who were in state custody.
The report was welcomed by Gov. Nikki R. Haley, who said it offered useful recommendations for improving how the state — both the government and its citizens — can better address childhood sexual trauma.

Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Judge Strikes Down Louisiana Law Allowing Kids to Own Guns, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

A Louisiana juvenile court judge rankled the state’s pro-gun activists last week when she struck down portions of a state law allowing minors to carry firearms.

East Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson ruled that a law allowing concealed carry for juveniles was unconstitutional, as the statute, which allows Louisiana youth to possess certain firearms, with parental consent, conflicted with an wider law prohibiting juveniles from possessing handguns.

Minority Children Less Likely to be Diagnosed with ADHD,

Minority children are far less likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study in this week’s journal Pediatrics.

In fact, authors found that African-American children were 69% less likely to be diagnosed, while Hispanic children were 45% less likely to have an ADHD diagnosis.

New HIV Infections Among Children Have Been Reduced by 50% or More in Seven Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, UNAIDS

A new report on the Global Plan towards elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015 and keeping their mothers alive (Global Plan) has revealed a marked increase in progress in stopping new infections in children across the Global Plan priority countries in Africa.

The report outlines that seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa—Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia—have reduced new HIV infections among children by 50% since 2009. Two others—the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe—are also making substantial progress. It highlights that there were 130 000 fewer new HIV infections among children across the 21 Global Plan priority countries in Africa––a drop of 38% since 2009.

Hyperconnectivity Found in Brains of Children with Autism, Study Says, HealthCanal

The brains of children with autism show higher-than-normal connectivity along many neural networks, a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found.

The study’s results may contribute to the development of a brain-based test that could be used to diagnose autism at an early stage. The findings, published June 26 in JAMA Psychiatry, were unexpected because they contradict prior reports of reduced brain connectivity in adults with autism.

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,

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,

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.