Thursday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Juvenile Justice:  Changes Made in Laws Affecting Youths, Midland Daily News

It’s been years in the making, but now some big changes have been made to laws pertaining to juveniles in court.

“The predominant push is the idea that we need to have laws that are geared to juveniles,” Midland County Probate Judge Dorene S. Allen said. “Not use adult laws for juveniles.”

The changes wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and years of hard work of many, including Allen, her fellow judges on the Michigan Probate Judges Association and legislators who took the time to understand why the changes are important.

Girl Recovering After Abduction by Woman Posing as her Mom, CNN

Philadelphia police are still searching for the woman who they say abducted a 5-year-old girl from her elementary school on Monday by posing as the girl’s mother, dressed in a Muslim-style head covering.

The suspect, who police say may be pregnant and may go by the name “Rashida,” took the girl to a nearby house where a male suspect waited.

Once inside the home, authorities say, the girl was told to remove her clothing and was given a black T-shirt to wear. She was blindfolded and forced to hide under a bed, they said. She was fed at some point.

“This was an egregious crime, and the community should be outraged,” Capt. John Darby, commanding officer of special victims, said at a news conference Wednesday. “This was not a random act as far as we’re concerned.”

A man on his way to work early Tuesday found the girl wearing only the black T-shirt and crying under a slide at a playground, police said. She has since returned home with her mother, and there are “no overt” signs of injury, Darby said.

NRA Sparks Debate with Release of 3D Shooter Game for Ages 4 and Up, Fox News

Gun owners are defending a controversial 3D shooter app released by the National Rifle Association that allows players to work on simulated target practice by firing at coffin-shaped targets.

The game, NRA: Practice Range, has come under sharp criticism for its poor timing and the NRA’s apparent hypocrisy regarding virtual violence, but Eric Pratt, director of communications for Gun Owners of America contends the title has educational virtues.

“What a kid would see with this is no different than what a kid would see if his mom or dad took him to the shooting range,” Pratt told Fox News.

“They should be teaching gun safety and gun education in schools,” he later added. “Even with an app like this to help people learn how to shoot straight because when they grow up and become adults, they’re going to have to protect their homes.”

Report:  Miss. School Discipline Too Hard on Kids, The Houston Chronicle

Civil rights advocates say harsh disciplinary practices at many Mississippi schools lead to children being expelled and even incarcerated for minor infractions, policies that disproportionally affect minorities.

A joint report by groups including the ACLU and NAACP says the problems are more widespread than just the city of Meridian, where the U.S. Justice Department has filed a suit claiming officials are running a “school-to-prison pipeline” for minor infractions.

The groups say the Meridian lawsuit is just one example of a problem “that has plagued Mississippi schools statewide for years.” The report was a joint project of the state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People with the Mississippi Coalition for the Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse and the Advancement Project. They plan to discuss it at an 11 a.m. CST news conference Thursday.

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