Monday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Man Wanted in Custody Case Returning to Oklahoma, www.abcnews.com

The father of a Cherokee Indian girl mired in an adoption dispute was ordered to leave an Iowa National Guard base and return to Oklahoma, an Iowa Guard spokesman said Sunday.

Brown, who is Cherokee, is charged with custodial interference involving his 3-year-old daughter, Veronica. A South Carolina couple has been trying to adopt Veronica since her birth in 2009; they raised her for two years.

The issue has been clouded by the Indian Child Welfare Act, which prompted a court in 2011 to favor the girl living with her father. But in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that South Carolina courts should decide who gets to adopt Veronica.

The girl’s biological mother, Chrissy Maldonado, is not Indian and supports the adoption. She has filed a lawsuit against the federal government claiming the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional.

More recently, a South Carolina judge finalized the couple’s adoption and approved a plan to reintroduce Veronica to the couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. Brown didn’t show up for the first scheduled gathering Aug. 4, prompting the charge.

Several American Indian groups are also pursuing a federal civil rights case, saying a hearing should be held to determine if it is in Veronica’s best interest to be transferred to South Carolina.

Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Amanda Clinton has called the move to charge Brown “morally reprehensible” and “legally questionable.”

The attorneys for Veronica’s adoptive parents and her birth mother argued in a joint statement Sunday morning that not only is Brown committing a felony, but anyone who hides the child from law enforcement or stands in the way of the court order to turn her over — including the Cherokee Nation — also should be considered lawbreakers.

In US, a Youth is Killed by a Gun Every Three Hours, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

More than 18,000 young people were killed or injured by a gun in 2010, according to a new report released by the Children’s Defense Fund, “Protect Children Not Guns 2013.”

According to the report, approximately 2,700 young people, up to 19 years old, lost their lives in 2010 to gun violence, the equivalent of one death every three hours and fifteen minutes, averaging 51 deaths every week.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that gun violence was the second leading cause of death for young people, only automobile accidents claimed the lives of more children and teens. The report’s authors also found that African-American youths were twice as likely to be killed by a gun than killed in a traffic accident.

Despite representing just 15 percent of all children and teens, the report said black youths made up 45 percent of all young people killed by firearms in 2010. Not only are African-American youths 4.7 times more likely to be killed with a firearm than white young people, black children and teens were approximately 17 times more likely to be the victims of a firearm-related homicide than white youths.

Older teens represent an overwhelming majority of firearm-death victims. Researchers said nearly nine out of 10 firearm-related injuries or deaths among young people in 2010 occurred among youths ages 15-19, according to the authors of the report. Black males in their mid- to late-teens were found to be the most at-risk group overall, and individuals in the demographic were 30 times more likely to be the victims of gun-related homicides than white males in the same age range.

In 2010, nearly three times as many young people in the U.S. were wounded by firearms than the number of U.S. soldiers injured in Afghanistan during the same year. Since 1963, the report stated, more than 160,000 young people have been killed by firearms in the United States — triple the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

“We also need policies that support consumer product safety standards for all guns, public funding for gun violence prevention research, and resources and authority for law enforcement agencies to properly enforce gun safety laws,” she concluded. “We can — and must — raise our individual and collective voices and demand our political leaders do better right now to protect children, not guns.”

DoD Responds to Child Abuse Crisis, www.navytimes.com

Faced with an epidemic of child abuse across the four services, the Defense Department is establishing a child abuse working group, according to a Pentagon spokesman.

“The Department is in the process of establishing a Prevention and Coordinated Community Response to Child Abuse, Neglect and Domestic Abuse Working Group,” said DoD spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen.

The working group is part of the Pentagon’s effort to strengthen “awareness and prevention efforts to protect children and apply resources to prevent incidents of child abuse, neglect and domestic abuse,” he said.

DoD is under pressure from two powerful members of the Senate Armed Services Committee who have pressed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for child abuse statistics and a plan to reverse the trend.

The senators’ inquiry was sparked by an Army Times investigation that found 29,552 cases of child abuse in the Army alone between 2003 and 2012. The abuse led to the death of 118 Army children; 1,400 of the cases included sexual assault.

The number of Army cases has spiked 28 percent between 2008 and 2011. The Air Force is also reporting a 25 percent increase in cases of child abuse and assault between 2008 and 2012.

In all services except the Marine Corps, the number of cases has continued to climb. The Marine Corps cases dropped by 5 percent between 2011 and 2012 and have dropped significantly in fiscal 2013. But the number of Marine child abuse deaths has risen.

Between 2008 and 2012, there were 5,755 cases in the Air Force, 267 of them sexual, resulting in 16 deaths.

The Marine Corps figures for 2011 and 2012 showed 1,591 cases, 47 of them sexual, with six deaths. There have been four deaths this year.

The Navy reported 3,336 cases between 2009 and 2012, with a decline in 2012. But figures for the first half of 2013 show the number of cases climbing again. Among Navy families, 42 children were killed between 2008 and 2012.

Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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.

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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.

Friday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Court Upholds Search of School Aide’s Desk in Child Sex-Abuse Case, The School Law Blog – Education Week

A police search of an instructional aide’s school desk for evidence of inappropriate communications with an elementary student did not violate the Fourth Amendment, Maryland’s highest court has ruled.

The ruling came in the case of a special education “paraeducator” who was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor and attempted sexual abuse, based entirely on a series of passionate notes and letters the aide had delivered to an 8-year-old girl at the school.

The aide, Karl Marshall Walker Jr., was 38 years old at the time the case unfolded. After a teacher found one inappropriate note in the girl’s possession, the police searched Walker’s desk in a common area of the school. With the school principal’s consent, police searched the desk and removed a box belonging to Walker. They obtained a warrant for that box, which contained notes from the 8-year-old girl to Walker.

 

Juvenile law restorative, not retributive: SC, The Peninsula

New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the Juvenile Justice Act providing for a special reformist approach towards a minor irrespective of the nature of crime committed by him or her, saying that the law aimed to save children in conflict from becoming hardened criminals.

“The essence of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the rules framed thereunder in 2007, is restorative and not retributive, providing for rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with law into the mainstream of society,” said an apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice S S Nijjar.

Chief Justice Kabir said: “There are, of course, exceptions where a child in the age group of 16-18 may have developed criminal propensities, which would make it virtually impossible for him/her to be reintegrated into mainstream society, but such examples are not of such proportions as to warrant any change in thinking…”

“…It is probably better to try and reintegrate children with criminal propensities into mainstream society, rather than to allow them to develop into hardened criminals, which does not augur well for the future,” the court said.

Assault Charges for Stepmother After a Girl Falls, NYTimes.com

The stepmother of a 7-year-old girl who was critically injured this month when she fell from a sixth-floor window in Brooklyn has been arrested on assault charges, the police said on Thursday.

On July 10, the woman, Diana Metellus, 19, beat the girl with a belt, then left her unsupervised in a room with no window guards, the police said. Ms. Metellus faces charges including assault with a weapon and acting in a manner injurious toward a child.

The child, who suffered injuries to her lungs, brain and pelvis in the fall, was later found with signs of abuse and traces of cannabis, methadone and amphetamines in her system, the authorities said.

In Tamil Nadu, Nearly 150 Hospitalized After Eating School Lunch, NYTimes.com

NEW DELHI— As many as 147 school girls were hospitalized on Thursday after eating a free lunch at a government school in Tamil Nadu, the local hospital authorities said.

The children from an all-girls high school in Neyveli township in the Cuddalore district complained of dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea soon after they ate a meal of sambar (a spicy lentil broth) and rice, said Dr. Pattu Ravi, a general superintendent at Neyveli General Hospital. He also said that some of those admitted had been given bread for lunch.

The students, ages 12 to 15, received emergency treatment after they were brought into the hospital Thursday afternoon in groups. Describing it as a simple case of “food infection,” Dr. Ravi said none of the patients were in critical condition. After keeping them under observation overnight, the children are likely to be discharged Friday morning, he said.

Dr. Ravi declined to confirm local media reports that identified contaminated eggs as the cause of the illness.

This incident raised alarms as it came a day after more than 20 children in Bihar died from eating a government school lunch believed to have been prepared with cooking oil stored in a pesticide container. One more child died Thursday, bringing the death toll to 23, and nearly two dozen children are still hospitalized.