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.

Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

‘More than Able to Hold her Own,’ Girl gets Boot from Catholic Football League, CNN

Caroline Pla has been playing football since kindergarten, and for the past two years, the 11-year-old has been knocking opposing players on their butts.

It never occurred to her that someone might need to protect her from the sport she adores.

Her playing time with the Catholic Youth Organization ended after last season when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia enforced its “boys only” policy for football, sidelining the All-Star guard and defensive end.

Inspired by her older brother, George, 14, Caroline started playing Pop Warner flag football at age 5 and was hooked. Once she got too big to play Pop Warner, she signed up to play tackle football with the CYO in the fifth grade.

Two games into Caroline’s second season, head coach Chip Ross received an unexpected call from Jason Budd, deputy secretary for Catholic education for the archdiocese, who oversees the football program.

Caroline’s older brother, George, 14, inspired her to become a football player when she was 5.

The 5-foot-3, 110-pound sixth-grader, Budd explained to Ross, could no longer play for the Romans because, according to the CYO handbook, football is a full-contact sport — no girls allowed.

Officials:  9-year-old Mother is at least 12, Houston Chronicle

Authorities in the Mexican state of Jalisco say tests have revealed that a girl who gave birth two weeks ago is between 12 and 13 years of age, not 9 as the parents had claimed.

Jalisco state prosecutors also say the girl was impregnated by her stepfather and not her alleged 17-year-old boyfriend.

French Plan to Add to Already Lengthy School Days Angers Parents and Teachers, The New York Times

For more than a century, the lengthy school days of French children have been punctuated by a midweek day off, in recent decades for most children on Wednesdays, originally created for catechism studies.

The long hours and peculiar weekly rhythm have been criticized as counterproductive to learning and blamed for keeping women out of the full-time work force, as well as widening inequalities between rich and poor because of the demands they place on working parents. Yet the Wednesday break has remained a fulcrum of French family life.

With all that in mind, the government of President François Hollande recently issued a decree introducing a half day of school on Wednesdays for children 3 to 11 starting in September, while reducing the school day by 45 minutes the rest of the week. In a country with a broad consensus in favor of shortening a school day that typically runs from 8:30 a.m. to at least 4 p.m., and sometimes longer, Mr. Hollande’s government still did not expect the plan to be controversial. It has not worked out that way.

Training Gap Cited for Police on Youth, The Boston Globe

They can be defiant, contemptuous of authority, and heedless of how their actions will affect their future.

Adolescents possess little of the reasoning and judgment that keep most adults out of trouble, according to recent scientific ­research that has encouraged more training of judges, prosecutors, and probation officers to ­realize that juveniles in the criminal justice system should be treated differently than their grown-up counterparts.

But, according to a survey by a Cambridge-based organization that trains police to deal with ­juveniles, little of that training is reaching those at the front lines of confrontations with wayward youth: police officers.

A Long Struggle for Equality in Schools, The New York Times

Looking back at the school desegregation case he took as a young lawyer, Rubin Salter Jr. sees a pile of wasted money and squandered opportunities. After almost four decades in court and nearly $1 billion in public spending, little has changed for the black children whose right to a good education he had labored to defend.

Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Indiana Can’t Kick Sex Offenders off Social Media, Court Says, CNN

Indiana can’t kick all registered sex offenders off instant messaging services, chat rooms or social networking sites like Facebook, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The state passed a law in 2008 that was aimed at keeping predators from trolling the Internet for new victims. But that law “broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper communications to minors,” a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded.

State courts can impose limits on social media as a condition of a sex offender’s probation or parole, but a “blanket ban” on Internet use violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of free expression, the judges found.

A district judge in Indianapolis had upheld the law in June, but federal courts in at least two other states — Nebraska and Louisiana — struck down similar state laws in 2012.

There’s More to Baltimore than Prisons, The Baltimore Sun

I once sat with a group of inner-city Baltimore kids, mostly 12-year-olds, who were being asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Police officer. Prison guard. Judge.

Those were the boys at least. The girls mostly seemed to aspire to cosmetology, which was depressing in its own way.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with being a cop or corrections officer or a judge. But the fact that no other jobs came to mind reflected how very narrow was their world: You were either the guy getting arrested, tried and jailed, or the guy doing the arresting, trying and jailing.

CASA Volunteers Read to Help Kids, The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kayla Hickman of Amelia said she is looking forward to “helping kids and families” as a court-appointed special advocate for children in the CASA for Clermont Kids program.

Hickman and five other volunteers who completed 40 hours of special training were sworn in Jan. 17.

Amada List, executive director of CASA, said the volunteers completed the training to prepare them to be advocates in court for abused, neglected and dependent children.

“By using well-trained volunteers, juvenile court saves the cost of appointing attorneys to serve as guardians for the children,” List said.

In 2012, CASA for Clermont Kids served 222 children, List said.

New Mexico Teen Accused of Gunning Down Family ‘Lost Sense of Conscience”, CNN

The chilling acts the 15-year-old boy is accused of defy imagination:

Pumping his mother, brother and two younger sisters with bullets.

Gunning down his dad when he returned home.

Texting a picture of his lifeless mother to his 12-year-old girlfriend.

Plotting to kill strangers outside a supermarket.

But, family members say, Nehemiah Griego is no monster. They can’t fathom what could have gone so terribly wrong.

“Whether it was a mental breakdown or some deeper undiagnosed psychological issue, we can’t be sure yet,” his uncle, former New Mexico state Sen. Eric Griego, said.