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August 2001

 30 August 2001 

Report rips Alberta foster program
Young people are being mistreated under Alberta's child-welfare system, which is critically underfunded despite the province's massive surplus, says a report released Thursday by the Alberta children's advocate.
The scathing 39-page report, which makes 13 recommendations, says that in many cases, children have been neglected and physically, sexually and emotionally abused in government-endorsed foster homes.
 

Harsh report on juvenile justice centres
A proposal that five young female offenders from the Parkville Youth Residential Centre attend the Sydney Olympics had the potential to bring the Victorian juvenile justice system into disrepute, a ministerial review has found.
Two of the five nominated offenders were dropped from the proposed trip after it was discovered they were in detention, rather than in community units, and still had substantial sentences to serve.
The Olympics trip, which was approved by three senior juvenile justice managers before being cancelled, would have contributed little to their rehabilitation and could have resulted in unfavorable national and even international publicity, the review says.
Similarly, a trip to the snow last September - including lessons by a ski instructor - for four female "clients" of the Parkville Youth Residential Centre had "little rehabilitation benefit".
The review, which was highly critical of the Department of Human Services, also found the use of isolation as a punishment jumped 370 per cent between 1999 and 2000 at one juvenile facility.
Staff at key youth centres felt unsafe, and the use of duress alarms more than doubled since mid-2000.
The review identified a plethora of staffing problems and concluded that the Department of Human Services had not provided effective supervision of the Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre in Parkville.

 

Firm that runs reform school to pay state $600,000
Victor Cullen Academy in Frederick County has been found deficient after audit. The contractor that manages Victor Cullen Academy has agreed to pay the state $600,000 after auditors concluded the boys reform school was severely understaffed and fell far short of requirements for mental health care, education and financial controls.
After nine months of negotiating, the Department of Juvenile Justice announced the settlement with Youth Services International on Wednesday.  The department is still discussing problems at another YSI-run juvenile detention center, the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Cub Hill.
"I want to ensure that the youth receive the services that the people of Maryland pay for under the terms and conditions of every contract," department Secretary Bishop L. Robinson said in a statement.
The Cullen audit was ordered more than a year ago after two students escaped through a third-floor window using a makeshift rope. Their absence went unnoticed until state police returned them four hours later, and it was at least the fourth escape in 18 months.
 

Stern message on child care at Unicef forum
People working with children, particularly those delivering social service programmes, often had their own dysfunctional families, Women's Refuge head Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said yesterday.  She called for people to start "practising what they preach".
"The number of times people have spoken to me about the people who work in this area, particularly those doing the delivery of social services programmes, very often their own families are quite dysfunctional," she told a Unicef Forum in Wellington on issues affecting children.
"If you're going to be there, particularly in a leadership position, then you have to be able to clearly demonstrate [leadership].
"Young people know a fraud when they see one."
Mrs Ruakawa-Tait was one of 16 panellists invited to Parliament yesterday. She said afterwards that she was not referring to her organisation when talking about such people delivering social services.
 

Alienated Boys Seen More Likely to Carry Out School Shootings
A newly released study found that boys aged 16-18 who had few friends, had easy access to guns, and who looked to seek revenge against a bully were seen as more likely to launch violent attacks at school, Reuters reported Aug. 28.
"We found students seem to know who in their schools have the potential for violence and what might drive them to shoot someone in school," said Edward Gaughan, a psychology professor from Alfred University in New York, who led the study.
The survey polled 2,017 students nationwide, in grades 7-12. It asked them their thoughts about school shootings, who they thought would be most likely to commit a shooting, and what they felt drove a student to shoot classmates.
The survey showed that boys in the 11th or 12th grade who felt alienated at home and at school, were bullied and mistreated by their peers, and felt ignored by teachers were seen as being at the highest risk for committing violence.
Students also said that school shootings could be prevented if teachers intervened more to stop verbal, physical, and emotional abuse.
 

 29 August 2001 

Christopher Beedell dies
Chris Beedell, well-known writer and teacher in the field of residential child care, died on Friday in St Peter's Hospice in Bristol. His son Jonathan reports that he talked with colleagues sometime before about what made 'good' institutions, and he'd decided that they had to have some element of 'loving kindness' which made them work ... "and he felt that the hospice nurses certainly had that."
Christopher was author of the book Residential Life with Children, one of the standard text books in use during the 70s and 80s. Chris, said Jonathan, had "a strong faith in the ability of people to help disadvantaged children and in our capacity to heal and nurture and change things for the better. As his children we are proud of his professional work and influence.
"
Chris terminated his membership of the CYC-NET discussion group only last month.

Training Teachers to Spot Abuse
Some 600 teachers, school nurses and other educators gathered Tuesday at the Irvine Marriott for the annual Domestic Violence Training and Awareness Program.  This year's theme was "Children in Crisis," a sometimes graphic glimpse into the problems that youths carry with them when they head off to school.
The conference featured speakers ranging from emergency room doctors who see battered children, to therapists, to Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas.
The conference was jarring to many. A haunting 911 tape of a boy calling police as his parents fought in the background was played. Photos of battered children--one with a knife in his neck--were shown.
Organizers said the purpose of the vivid sounds and images was to serve as a lasting reminder to teachers that they are uniquely close to children and have a duty to vigorously watch for signs of abuse and other problems at home.
 

Mandela's mission for children
Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel want to persuade leading nations to help the world's impoverished and abused children.
It is a daunting challenge. In seeking to move children to the centre of the international agenda, Nelson Mandela has, at 83, set himself a mission that has defeated younger, though less charismatic figures. His central task is now to persuade the world's political leaders to translate fair words into real action - ending discrimination and violence against children and adolescents.
"We are not seeking and will not accept vague promises," Mr Mandela said at the launch of the initiative in May last year. "We cannot waste our precious children. Not another one, not another day. It is long past time for us to act on their behalf. "Our purpose is to get specific commitments from these leaders and specific results," he said.
 

US: From court to class
To keep wayward youths out of jail, the organizer of Citrus County's Teen Court is sending them to the classroom. Teen Court Coordinator Tom Moore and representatives from the state Department of Juvenile Justice have developed a new program aimed at helping youthful offenders make better life decisions. Dubbed "Right Choice" by Moore, the program consists of eight one-hour classes taught by volunteers, including local law enforcement and health officials.
Right Choice will give juries a new tool that can be used to make the punishment fit the crime, Moore said. For example, a teen who admits to shoplifting can be sent to a class offered on the consequences of retail theft, taught by a representative from Beall's department store. Other topics will include AIDS awareness, self-esteem and the dangers of tobacco and substance abuse.
"We want to help these kids learn how to make better decisions," Moore said. "When you think about what it was that put a child in Teen Court, it's usually the result of a bad decision." The classes, which are slated to begin Sept. 1, will be held at Cypress Creek Correctional Facility.
 

 28 August 2001 

UK: Young offenders still suffer violence
Young offenders at one of Britain's toughest institutions still fear bullying and violence, more than a year after a damning inspection, says a report.
BBC's Home Affairs correspondent Jon Silverman reports on the findings of the then Chief Inspector of Prisons about Portland Young Offenders' Institution in Devon.
A report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons has found that inmates at a young offenders' institution, that was heavily criticised for brutality by staff, are still complaining about unacceptable levels of violence.
Last year, the police began an investigation into allegations that prison officers at Portland Young Offenders Institution in Dorset had assaulted inmates over a 14-month period.
Thursday's report said the jail had shown great improvement, but there were still concerns about bullying and violence.
 

Canada: New Study on After School Reveals Child Safety Top Concern Among Parents
Situations that pose a direct threat to the physical or emotional/behavioural safety of their children during the after school hours are the top concern of parents in Canada, according to a new national study that explores how children spend the after school hours and parental concerns about the 3 - 6 p.m. time period.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, a trusted provider of community-based after school programs for children and youth nation-wide, in partnership with Sears Canada, conducted the Sears After-School Study in June 2001. The national study involved telephone interviews with 500 Canadian parents of children aged 6 -14 and is part of a three-year initiative to address the growing demand among parents for safe, constructive and reputable after school programs for their children.
The study found that two out of three Canadian parents of 6 to 14-year-old children are "very concerned" about their child's safety (65%). That number rises to 76 per cent in families where parents work full-time and have no one at home to care for the children. (According to Statistics Canada, almost 1.3 million mothers were working full-time in 2000). Concern for safety ranks higher than comparable concerns, including their child's exposure to drugs and alcohol (56%), youth violence (52%) and criminal activities (50%).
 

LA Lawyers for Children Say County Fails to Cooperate
Attorneys representing more than a dozen Los Angeles County children allegedly abused while in foster care have accused the county counsel's office of stonewalling court-ordered efforts to investigate the cases. The accusations, which will be heard Sept. 4 in an unusual hearing before Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Terry Friedman, involve various allegations of abuse.
In one case, according to records and interviews, an infant was permanently brain damaged by injuries allegedly inflicted by foster parents a week after the county Department of Children and Family Services opted not to remove the baby from the household. The court-appointed attorney in the case wrote to Friedman that the county counsel's office had not responded to two written requests for records. Another case involves a 5-year-old girl and her 4-year-old brother who allegedly were removed by the department without cause from a relative's home in December and placed in foster care. Within weeks, the toddlers allegedly were sexually assaulted by their children's department caseworker. Both cases are also under criminal investigation by law enforcement agencies.
 

Violence Against Girls Remains Constant
The last decade has brought steep declines in assaults against teen-age boys. But the news isn't as encouraging for girls. While assaults against boys dropped 28 percent from 1989-99, assaults against girls fell only 6 percent, a new study says.
In an attempt to figure out why -- and what to do about it -- researchers have sketched a more complete picture of the characteristics of violence against adolescent girls.
Girls are more likely to be assaulted in their home or someone else's home, while boys are more likely to be assaulted in public places, the researchers found.
And while girls had more trauma -- trouble walking or talking or using the toilet -- than boys after being released from hospital, girls were judged to have had less severe injuries when they were admitted to the hospital or treatment center.
 

DC: Hearing to Air Lapses in Youth Detention
Attorneys for youths in the District's juvenile justice system have secured a three-day hearing in D.C. Superior Court to air their allegations that the city's Oak Hill Youth Center operates without adequate or properly trained staff and fails to offer useful treatment plans for detained youths under its supervision.
City officials challenge the advocates' assertions, arguing that new management since 1998 has improved chronically poor conditions at Oak Hill, the District's maximum-security juvenile detention and commitment facility in Laurel, and that permanent change takes more time.
The clashing perspectives on the city's juvenile justice system will be aired during the hearing, which is to start today. Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr.'s decision to schedule the hearing was a setback for the administration of D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), which pledged in January to follow the judge's timetable for complying with a 1986 consent decree governing conditions in the District's juvenile justice facilities.
In July, Dixon turned down city attorneys' request for more time to comply with the judge's March deadline for improving certain services at Oak Hill. This week's hearing will focus on three assertions by attorneys for the city's confined juveniles:

  • Youths detained while awaiting court appearances are not given treatment plans that address their emotional and educational needs.
  • Youths preparing to return to their communities do not receive after-care services to assist in the transition.
  • Staff members at the Youth Services Administration, which runs Oak Hill and residential placements for confined children, lack adequate skills for dealing with troubled youths.

UK: Northern youth courts tougher on working class
TEENAGE offenders are suffering unfair �justice by geography� as magistrates around the country impose different sentences for similar crimes.
Young criminals in the North East, North West and South Wales are likely to be treated more harshly than those in high-crime areas of Inner London.
One criminal justice expert said last night: �I would much rather be sentenced by a middle-class magistrate in Surrey that an old-fashioned right-wing trade unionist in the North East.�
He said that the North had always punished people more harshly than other parts of the country. �The further north you get, the more serious sentencing becomes for adults as well as juveniles. It is a working-class cultural thing,� he said.
Even courts within a few miles of each other show discrepancies in the sentences imposed for similar offences, according to the Youth Justice Board. A 16-year-old with no previous convictions who was studying for GCSEs at college was given a 12-month detention and training order for theft of a mobile phone by Wimbledon Youth Court last May. The order involves the serving of half the sentence in custody and the rest in the community.
 

 27 August 2001 

Nigeria At E9 Summit, Outlines Problems of Education
New strategies for achieving basic Education for All (EFA) by the year 2015, formed the crux of discussions in Beijing, China, yesterday, as the nine high population countries (E9) began their fourth ministerial review meeting. Education Ministers from Nigeria, China, Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Egypt and Pakistan took turns at the well-attended event, to outline their individual countries' problems and prospects in the provision of basic education for all.
The EFA concept was adopted at the World Conference on Education for All, convened in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990 as a global response to the deterioration of education systems noticed in the 1980s. That conference, which had 155 countries, 33 inter-governmental bodies, 125 non-governmental organisations in attendance, set up six goals towards achieving the EFA by the year 2000.
 

New Zealand: Caregiver shortage puts kids in motels
Problem youths are being put up in motels because Child, Youth and Family cannot find caregivers for them.
The chronic shortage of caregivers stretches across the country, but one of the worst-hit areas is Palmerston North, where three youths are in motels.  One has been there for several weeks.
Child, Youth and Family Services spokesman Stephen Ward yesterday confirmed to the Herald that motels were used when places with caregivers were not immediately available. It had happened in Christchurch a year ago.
A youth would be cared for by an adult while in a motel.
"We prefer to avoid motel placements wherever possible, as we like to have young people in as normal an environment as possible," he said. The youths are earmarked for out-of-family care, and come from a variety of backgrounds.
 

UK: Call to jail fewer young offenders
Courts are being urged to send fewer young offenders to prison because youth jails are close to bursting point. T
he chairman of the Youth Justice Board, Lord Warner, has written to every youth court in England and Wales calling for greater use of community penalties for 15 to 17-year-olds.
Every effort is being made to make full use of the new range of community penalties available in the youth court. And he says wide regional variations in sentencing policy means that there is currently "justice by geography".
Lord Warner said short three-month sentences left little time for rehabilitation while they disrupted young people's lives.
BBC News

Dean at children's home suspended
The dean at a state home for troubled youth was suspended Friday during the second investigation of alleged misconduct at the home in two years.
Rush County Child Protection Services reopened an investigation of Kevin Jones, who has been dean of boys at the Knightstown Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home for less than three months, said state health department spokeswoman Margaret Joseph.
The nature of the accusations against Jones have not been disclosed, but prior to his suspension Jones was not allowed to have contact with students.  "Whenever there are any types of allegations regarding students, our policy is that the staff member is removed from contact with students during that time," Joseph told The Star Press of Muncie on Friday.
The Knightstown home is a residential school for children ages 3-18 who have social, emotional or behavioral problems. Some of the youths come from broken homes, while others have had brushes with the law.
The home's former dean of boys, Terry Best, pleaded guilty in February to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was accused of supervising a May 1999 party at the home where students consumed alcoholic drinks and smoked cigarettes.
 

Hispanic Youth Need Tailored Prevention, Treatment Services
Prevention experts say that more funding and culturally friendly prevention programs are needed to target Hispanic youth, Substance Abuse Funding News reported.
Hispanic youngsters are among the demographic groups most at risk for addiction to alcohol and other drugs. But William Crano, a psychology professor at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., said that research shows that Hispanic youth are not influenced by most "social anti-drug interventions" provided by the mass media or schools.
Instead, he said, prevention experts must create campaigns that address the cultural and value-based differences of the Latino population.
 

 24 August 2001 

Sports Program Tackles Behavioral Problems among At-Risk Youth
The Jacksonville Jaguars' Honor Rows Program is meeting with success in improving the behavior of economically and socially disadvantaged youth, according to a press release from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
An assessment of the program by the Institute for Child Health Policy at the State University System of Florida found that the Honor Rows Program improved school performance, inspired youth to improve personal behaviors, and enhanced self-confidence among participants.
The program, established in 1995 by the Florida-based Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation, awards blocks of tickets to Jaguar home games to more than 40 community agencies each year. The agencies, in turn, award seats to low-income youth between the ages of 9 and 16 who meet goals like doing better in school, becoming more involved in their community, and improving personal behaviors.
"A lot of these adolescents have never been asked to set goals in their life, so they really appreciate the value of goal-setting and the incentives and support associated with reaching their goals," said Jaguars Foundation Executive Director Peter Racine. "When they get to the game, they feel proud that they earned the seat."
Because of the success of the program, it is being reviewed for replication by other sports foundations throughout the country.
 

Australia: Manual to help people at risk of suicide
A manual aimed at stemming the suicide rate among young refugees, gay and lesbian people, has been launched in Melbourne.
The step manual was prepared by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service workers from throughout Victoria.
It is a resource for teachers, juvenile justice and correctional services officers, health service providers and youth workers.
The manual provides advice on new ways to help young people build trust and a sense of belonging focussing specifically on indigenous youth, young refugees and people attracted to the same sex.
Chairman of the Mental Health Council of Australia, John McGrath says "and that's significant because those three groups would be the most discriminated and untollerated, if you like, across the general community in Australia."
The manual was funded by the Federal Government as part of the National Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.
 

Kansas: Poor decision on juvenile center � Editorial
A curious whispering campaign in Johnson County has been directed against the county's Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center in Olathe. Apparently as a result of that campaign, the Merriam City Council voted to withhold its share of the funding that cities pay for the center's operations.
This was an irresponsible decision that hurts the center and could raise unnecessary doubts about the state's juvenile justice system, which has generally worked well in recent years.
Complaints about privacy invasion and constitutional violations have arisen over a questionnaire that is used statewide by juvenile justice authorities.
By a 5-3 vote, the Merriam City Council denied funding for seven sheriff's deputies at the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center (JIAC). Those who voted against Merriam doing its part have created potential problems for public safety in their own city. Merriam law officers likely will have to spend more time now booking juveniles at the center. That means less time tending to law enforcement on Merriam's streets and in its neighborhoods.
This vote also spells potential trouble down the road for the schools, if other cities follow Merriam's lead. The majority on the Merriam council appeared to listen, at least somewhat, to Shawnee Councilman Mitch Carlson, who interjected himself into Merriam's business in opposing the funding.
 

Canada: New attitude urged in fight against illegal drugs
Canada has lost the war on drugs, the Fraser Institute says, yet the government still tries to win by criminalizing drug use.  If progress is to be made in the costly war against drugs, a series of policy papers released on Wednesday says, the focus has to shift from throwing millions of dollars at enforcement of prohibition toward investing in such things as youth education and addiction-treatment programs.
"Unsurprisingly, prohibition of drugs has not worked any better than prohibition of alcohol. Drugs are no less prevalent than before prohibition," Patrick Basham says in his introductory paper, "Re-evaluating the 'War on Drugs.'"
The article is part of a series of policy papers released by the conservative Vancouver-based think tank under the name, Sensible Solutions to the Urban Drug Problem. The papers are based on reports presented at two Fraser Institute conferences in 1998.
The authors of the papers argue that scientific evidence shows that problems associated with illegal drugs are caused not by drug use itself but by their illegalization.
"Drug prohibition causes crime; drug prohibition corrupts police officers; drug prohibition violates civil liberties and individual rights; drug prohibition throws good money after bad; and drug prohibition weakens � at times even destroys � families, neighbourhoods, and communities," wrote Mr. Basham, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., and former director of the Institute's Social Affairs Centre.
 

 23 August 2001 

Toronto: Meeting probes roots of violence
The desperate need for youth programs, affordable housing and more child care were among a wide range of topics discussed at a Regent Park meeting last night to find ways to overcome violence against young black men in the city.
``I've lost a lot of friends, so it's important to find solutions to stop this cycle of violence,'' said Robyn Taylor, 27, a TV production assistant who grew up in Regent Park. ``It affects us all. We need help. We need to take the guns off the streets.''
Taylor's call for a mentoring program to provide role models for children struck a chord among the group of about 50 people who gathered at the Regent Park community centre to discuss a recent spate of violence in that area and other parts of the city.
Taylor, whose friend Chad Wynter, 25, was found shot dead in an alleyway near Gerrard St. in March, urged the meeting to push for a mentoring program, using herself as an illustration.
This year alone, 18 young black men across the city have been killed and a poster put out by the Black Action Defence Committee last week lists 100 black youths who have been murdered in the last five years.

 

Connecticut: A Grant To Stop Bullying
This fall, Connecticut will launch a school anti-bullying campaign with an unusual twist.  The General Assembly recently approved $500,000 to support local education initiatives over the next two years. However, in an extraordinary act, Diana Wege of New Canaan will add $500,000 of her own money to the public dollars.
Bullying has become a growing national concern after a series of school shootings the past few years. Often, students who inflict violence on schoolmates and teachers have been the targets of bullies. Bullying involves a pattern of antisocial behavior over weeks or months. It can begin with one student calling another names and build to physical attacks. Studies show that bullying by children in elementary school can lead to more serious aggression in later years. It also has a detrimental effect on learning. Victims' grades suffer and some drop out of school.
Anti-bullying programs generally instruct parents, students and teachers in tolerance, conflict resolution, empathy and communication skills.
Too often, however, programs that sound good on paper are minimally effective or produce results that are hard to measure. In this case, the state plans to set rigorous criteria to determine if the programs actually make a difference.

 

Rwanda: UNICEF Appeals for Rehabilitation Funds for Child Soldiers
The U.N. Children's Fund says more than 220 former child soldiers forcibly recruited by Congolese rebels are back in Rwanda undergoing rehabilitation. UNICEF says the rebels seized the children in northwestern Rwanda and took them to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
The children, who range in age from 10 to 18 years old, came back into Rwandan hands in late May, after clashes in northwestern Rwanda between government troops and rebel infiltrators from the neighboring DRC.
UNICEF spokeswoman Wivina Belmonte says the Rwandans captured about 1,000 of the rebel soldiers. She says among them were several hundred children. "The children that we are talking about, the 227 children were handed over to UNICEF by the Rwandan Patriotic Army," Ms. Belmonte says. "They had been working either as porters or child soldiers in the DRC and in an area of conflict. So, they have been going back and forth over the border."
 

Books off limits in youths' cells
Talk to just about anyone who works in the juvenile justice system, and they'll tell you education is one of the keys to helping turn troubled kids away from crime. But when young people are housed inside cells in juvenile detention centers across Florida, they generally are barred from reading books.
Reading is allowed in detention centers' classrooms and recreation areas. But once these youths are sent to their individual cells, books are considered contraband -- dangerous items that can be used to fashion weapons or help someone escape. Youths were allowed to read in their cells in the past, but "unfortunately for the most part that privilege has been abused," said Don Goff, regional chief of detention for the state Department of Juvenile Justice. He said in many cases books "were used for things other than reading."
Some question whether books pose such a threat that they should be kept out of the hands of young people who are locked up. "It's a little bit of a stretch to believe the book-as-weapon theory," said Jack Levine, president of the Center for Florida's Children, an advocacy group. "I know the old expression "They threw the book at them,' but I don't really believe it's a daily occurrence."
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Frank Quesada, who handles juvenile delinquency cases and others, said he didn't know that books were generally not allowed in cells. He said he could understand the security concerns and did not want to minimize them. Nonetheless, he said, "there are other ways of handling certain problems other than denying all children's reading materials in their cells." "I would hope that if a child wanted to read something ... I would think that's something we should not only encourage but also assist in," Quesada added.
 

 22 August 2001 

Most "kid-friendly" city in US
Portland, Ore., where babies are healthy and the air is clean, is the most ''kid-friendly'' major city in America, an environmental group announced Tuesday.
The ''Kid-Friendly Cities'' rankings are compiled every other year by the Washington-based group Zero Population Growth (ZPG). ''This is the eighth survey we've done, and the bottom line is things are clearly getting better for most kids in most cities in America,'' says ZPG president Peter Kostmayer. ''But there still are enormous disparities between kids whose families are entering the middle class and those being left behind.''
Portland's low infant mortality rate (4.7 deaths per 1,000 births), the low incidence of low-birth-weight babies (6.3%) and large number of clinics offering reproductive services to low-income women (25) won it top honors in the health category. Portland also scored well in education, public safety and environment (only three ''bad air'' days in 1998), but didn't do so well in economics because only 30% of its homes are considered affordable.
Kostmayer says the report can spark awareness and be used by community leaders to assess areas needing attention. It also highlights innovative programs U.S. cities are using to reduce youth violence, help young mothers or provide health care to those who need it. ''There are all kinds of grass-roots citizen efforts working to help these problems,'' he says.
Trends in the past 16 years suggest improvements are being made by cities in the areas of children's health, public safety and community life, Kostmayer says. But, ''the disparities are dramatic and troubling. For the kids in American cities for whom things are bad, they're very bad.''
Full report available Tuesday

Record Number of Child Delegates At Upcoming UN Summit
More than 100 children will serve as delegates at next month's landmark United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children, the first time such large numbers of young people will actively participate in deliberations at a major United Nations conference, officials announced today.
I hope we can arrive at one proposition and that all governments will value the rights of children. My ideal world is a just and fair place for children, where our rights are respected and where we can participate in everything."
"It may seem like common sense to invite young people to a conference completely dedicated to their well-being. But this is a radical change for such high-level meetings," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Secretariat for the Special Session. "Children will literally be rubbing shoulders with presidents and prime ministers. They will have a chance to voice their concerns and influence the debate."
 

State and local groups reach out to troubled juveniles
Mentally disturbed teens in Pennsylvania lockups are about to get more help. First, the state's maximum security juvenile facilities will soon implement uniform mental health screening of their residents, and second, the Mental Health Association of Allegheny County has volunteered to assist troubled youth at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.
In another development, the incoming deputy secretary for the state Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has asked county administrators for proposals to enhance mental health services for youths in the juvenile justice system.
Last month, a four-part Pittsburgh Post-Gazette series, "It's a Crime," detailed how mentally ill teens nationwide were trapped in lockups because privately run mental health group homes would not accept them and couldn't be forced to do so. The stories documented how youths with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses often spent months in detention centers while awaiting placement.
 

Jeffco sets meeting on teen sex offenders
Making good on their word, Jefferson County commissioners decided Wednesday to convene a meeting of mayors, state legislators and other officials to discuss how best to handle the treatment of juvenile sex offenders.
The commissioners hope to hold an Aug. 31 meeting, which might lead to the creation of a task force involving citizens and treatment providers.
"We need to hear from each other what we're up against," said Commissioner Pat Holloway, who has wanted such a meeting since early in the spring, before commissioners rejected a proposal for a teen sex-offender facility outside Golden.
Although the first meeting will be roundtable discussion to gather information, one of the first priorities will be deciding whether to repeal local laws that cap teen sex offenders to one per group home.
The cap imposed by the county created much of the pressure for it to propose the teen treatment center. But the same laws adopted by cities have created a problem as well. Arvada is in the process of closing down a group home run by Hand Up Homes for Youth at the Ridge Home site because it violates the one-per-home-cap. Hand Up Homes has until Oct. 31 to comply with the cap.
 

Street Drugs Becoming Even More Dangerous and Deadly
Three Houston men are scheduled to appear in court Monday--charged with selling a lethal mixture of drugs to addicts. It's the latest chapter in what appears to be a growing epidemic of deadlier street drugs.
The arrests came within hours of the funeral for the youngest overdose victim, 16-year-old Jennifer Rivera. Three men are now charged with delivering the drugs that killed her.
Captain Richard Holland of the Houston police says, "They are believed to be involved in the chain of events that ultimately got that drug or that dope to this girl."
Grief swept through this northeast Houston neighborhood this week after 15 people died from snorting or shooting up a potent street drug.
 

 21 August 2001 

Junkie parents are raising 200,000 children in UK
At least 200,000 children in the UK are being raised by parents addicted to heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs, according to new research.
A report by the Centre for Drug Misuse Research, a Europe-wide institution based at Glasgow University, highlights growing fears that a large part of a whole generation of children will be seriously damaged � emotionally and physically � because of the drug habits of adults.
The report, "Paying the Price for Their Parents' Addiction", concludes that the current, preferred policy of trying to support children within addict families "carries considerable risks that the children's own lives will be ruined and in some cases lost as a result of their parents' drug use".
It urges the creation of safe havens to give children, who, the report concedes, cannot all be put into social services care, at least some respite "from the chaos of their parents' drug use".

Japan: System failing to save abused kids
The 24-year-old mother of the primary school first-year student recently found dead in a canal in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, has told police that she beat the boy to death. The boy's body, which was wrapped in a plastic bag, is said to have been covered with bruises. We have no words to describe the horror and agony the boy must have suffered under his mother's cruel abuse. Such a person should never have become a parent. The boy had been taken to a public home for neglected and abused children so he could be protected from his parents' abuse.
Nonetheless, the institution readily complied with the parents' request to take the boy home temporarily, without bothering to take the proper steps. The local child consultation center--another public institution responsible for protecting children--was informed of the home's decision, but did not contact the parents to check on the boy's safety.
Since last November when an anti-child abuse law went into force, a total of 35 children have died from abuse.
Seven of these fatalities can be attributed to belated action or misjudgment on the part of child consultation centers. These lives need not have been lost if authorities had taken sufficient measures. The officials involved bear serious responsibility for the deaths.
 

Foster parents of 10,000 children are not vetted by the authorities
Up to 10,000 children, many under the age of five, are living with private foster parents who are unknown or unchecked by social services, the Department of Health has warned.
The unsupervised arrangements, which often involve foreign children being sent to Britain by their birth parents, have raised fears of a repeat of the tragic case of Anna Climbie, who was murdered by her carers. Anna, eight, died of multiple organ failure, malnutrition and neglect after months of appalling abuse at the hands of her aunt and her aunt's boyfriend in north London.
Her parents, from the Ivory Coast, had placed Anna in the care of her aunt so she could have a better education and standard of living in England. After her death, 128 injuries were found on her body.
Now teachers, doctors and social workers are being urged to double-check that children who live with private foster carers are properly vetted by local authorities.
About 10,000 children under the age of 16 are estimated to live with private foster parents, who are less rigorously regulated than childminders or conventional foster parents.
 

 20 August 2001 

Drug abuse by Northern Ireland pupils highest in UK, says report
Teenagers in Northern Ireland are increasingly drinking, smoking and using drugs and have a higher level of substance abuse than those in other parts of the UK, a survey has found.
The report, published by the Department of Health, was based on a questionnaire given to 700 15 and 16-year-olds in 71 secondary schools in 1999. Two-thirds of both boys and girls had drunk alcohol in the previous 30 days, and around half said they had been drunk during that period.
But the report showed that teenagers in the North were actually more likely than those in England and Wales to be non-drinkers.
Compared with a similar survey taken four years previously 7 per cent more boys and girls said they had drunk more than five drinks in a row in the previous 30 days.
The numbers using inhalants had dropped slightly but, with about 28 per cent of boys and 23 per cent of girls having used them, usage was significantly above that in England, Scotland and Wales. This was especially true of boys, who were more than twice as likely to have used inhalants than those in England and Scotland.
 

Keep Mom Out of Trouble and Kids Will Follow
Since babies don�t come with instruction manuals, the next best thing might be available from nurse Catherine Burton-Girardi in Elmira, New York. She teaches at-risk moms Parenting 101, starting 3 months before the baby comes.
Catherine says, "Some people need to be taught the basics because maybe they didn't have the basics."
Following up for 2 years after, as much as she helps the mom become a focused parent, the real target is the child. It�s a 20-year-old program now in 200 countries nationwide.
An alternative approach to "Just say no" is: If you want at-risk kids to walk the straight and narrow, put their moms on the path first.
 

 17 August 2001 

B.C. parents may be sued over vandal kids
British Columbia parents will be responsible for damage caused by their children under a new law introduced Wednesday. The Parental Responsibility Act will allow property owners who suffer vandalism by a child under 18 to sue the child's parents for up to $10,000.
"There has certainly been a cry from the public towards us and over the years that they'd like to see parents be more accountable for their children," Solicitor General Rich Coleman said after introducing the bill in the legislature.
The bill puts the onus on parents to prove they are adequately supervising their children. It affects children who are under the supervision of a parent, Coleman said. It does not apply to the thousands of children in government care or to non-custodial parents. "It's one more thing in the tool kit, basically, for us to be able to allow some responsibility for parents and children," Coleman said.
The B.C. law is modelled after similar laws in Ontario and Manitoba.

 

Federal judge told of `meltdown' in foster care
Declaring Broward County's foster care system is in crisis, attorneys for 1,500 foster children asked a federal judge Tuesday to appoint an independent monitor to enforce the provisions of a settlement designed to dramatically improve care.
In a 40-page motion, attorneys said the Florida Department of Children & Families is incapable of protecting children from abuse by their caregivers and other aggressive children. Since the settlement was approved in May 2000, they say, foster care conditions have steadily deteriorated.
Broward's foster care system ``is experiencing a meltdown,'' the court pleading states. ``Children are being physically, sexually and emotionally abused in unprecedented numbers. National experts have found that every aspect of [Broward's] child welfare practice is flawed.''
The motion states that one child, moved by DCF officials just last week from a group home to a juvenile lockup because there were no other beds elsewhere, asked lawyers: ``If you can get taken away from your parents by the state for abuse, then who is going to take you away from the state?''.
 

UK: Inspectors condemn private child jail
BRITAIN�S third privately-run child jail was characterised by turbulence and disruption during its first 20 months, according to a report published today.
The director and two of his assistants departed along with 47 other members of staff at Hassockfield Secure Training Centre, near Consett, Durham.
Rooms in residential units were damaged earlier this year. The report also found that offenders swore, spat, threw missiles and were allowed to make unpleasant comments to adults and classmates.
Teaching at the centre was criticised as unsatisfactory and the staff rotas meant that some workers were exhausted.
The report by the Social Services Inspectorate calls for the employment of more experienced and skilled childcare staff, improvements in attendance at lessons and better supervision of youngsters. The report comes after similar criticisms were made of Medway Secure Training Centre, the first child jail, near Rochester in Kent. Medway was the scene of a riot and experienced a large turnover of staff in its early days.
 

 16 August 2001 

'Harm reduction': good therapy, or bad idea?
Some praise it as a humane way to reduce the harm drug users cause themselves and society. Others dismiss it as a wrongheaded notion that enables addicts to continue along the path to self-destruction.
"Harm reduction," the therapy approach followed by the Women's Services Program at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, requires no pledge of abstinence from drug addicts and sets no timetable for them to get clean. Instead, it seeks to strengthen addicts' sense of self-worth so they can help themselves. The focus is on gradual change: Find decent housing, confront past emotional trauma, use condoms to protect against AIDS and some other sexually transmitted diseases.
The approach seems to work best with addicts who are poor, alienated from families, and marginalized by society, some drug-treatment providers say.
"Harm reduction has a philosophy that says behavior change is successful when it's done slowly and incrementally," said Edith Springer, a New York City social worker and former heroin addict who teaches harm reduction to police officers and others. "In other words, people don't just zip from being a drug-using sex worker to being Mr. and Mrs. America," Springer said.
 

Australia: Mandatory sentencing in breach of international laws
A Senate committee hearing in Sydney has heard that the Northern Territory and Western Australian mandatory sentencing laws remain in breach of international covenants despite the introduction of diversionary programs. The Senate inquiry is investigating the issue following a move by Greens' Senator Bob Brown to introduce a private members bill which aims to federally override all mandatory sentencing provisions.
The National Children's and Youth Law Centre's Lou Schetzer, says the Federal Government's funding of diversionary programs for juvenile offenders does not hide the mandatory sentencing laws from the rest of the world.  "The fact that some of the worst effects of mandatory sentencing have been ameliorated by introducing diversionary programs for young people does not diminish the fact that the legislation is bad law," Mr Schetzer said.
"It's in breach of Australia's international obligations, and it undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system."
 

Boot-Camp Leader Focus of Criticism
The founder of boot camps for youths who use drugs or have discipline problems has come under fire from parents who say their children have not received proper care, the  reported Aug. 9.
Stephen A. Cartisano, 3rd founded the Pacific Coast Academy on the South Pacific island of Samoa. For the past 12 years, he also has owned or been employed at youth therapy programs in Utah, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. All the programs strongly emphasize hard work and militaristic discipline.
"We are breaking down facades," said Cartisano of his programs. "Kids come in with all sorts of little ways to manipulate, with a lot of anger. We physically stress them out and that breaks down the facades to get to their heart."
Cartisano has become known as one of the leaders in the therapy-camp business. He also has faced multiple accusations about the treatment he provides.
One recent case involved the 17-year-old son of Rebecca Humble of San Diego, Calif. She said she sent her son Christopher to the one-year outdoor therapy program in Samoa in an effort to change his rebellious attitude and drug use. After only six months, Humble said her son had lost 47 pounds, his body had scars from beatings, and he could barely walk or talk. Humble's son is one of 23 American children who quit the Samoa program. Many complained of physical abuse. Samoan Police Commissioner Asi Blakelock said the camp is being investigated "for a number of allegations of assaults and harsh treatment of students."
Cartisano, 45, said the allegations are false and were invented by manipulative, deceitful youths. He also said parents make up allegations to get their tuition costs refunded.
 

 15 August 2001 

Australia: Carers allowed to see foster kids' files
FOSTER parents will be told of behavioural problems and given the criminal histories of children placed in their care in a move to protect carers' families.
Families Minister Judy Spence ordered the case files of foster children be opened to prospective foster families after a Brisbane couple revealed yesterday their child had been lured into crime by a foster child with a criminal past they were unaware of.
The Courier-Mail also revealed two weeks ago that three boys fostered by a Cairns couple had sexually abused their young daughters. The family was not advised the boys had themselves been sexually abused and exhibited similar tendencies.
When contacted about the latest case yesterday, Ms Spence issued a directive to all departmental staff to inform foster carers of children's backgrounds.
 

OZ Boys Town closing
THE operators of the BoysTown home at Beaudesert have vowed they will return with new programs to reach troubled teenagers.
It was announced yesterday the 40-year-old institution would close at the end of the year because its services had become increasingly irrelevant.
With fewer than 20 boys now being cared for in the 84-bed facility, the Catholic De La Salle Brothers felt the home could be put to better use.
Families Minister Judy Spence said she was not entirely surprised by the news, although her department was currently re-negotiating a new three-year contract with BoysTown. She acknowledged the contribution BoysTown had made in setting young offenders back on track and said work would now focus on rehousing those affected by the closure.
BoysTown Family Care board member Trevor Carlyon said while the closure was a sad day for many, including the 30 to 40 staff set to lose their jobs, it was hoped new programs would reinvigorate the site. "There is no question it (BoysTown) has had a wonderful, wonderful track record, but that will continue in another guise," Mr Carlyon said. Yesterday staff reassured residents they would be able to complete the school year.
 

Florida: Child agency hotline is under fire
Changes in the way social workers at the Department of Children & Families investigate scores of calls to the state's abuse hotline are designed to save time for caseworkers, officials say.
But critics of the new policies say the agency may end up endangering lives.
Last month, the department's Family Safety administration adopted three changes of procedure for the hotline, which fields about 41,000 reports each month. Each change was designed to reduce workload at an agency where poor decisions can sometimes lead to tragic consequences.
One change revamps the method by which the department investigates allegations of sexual abuse among foster children. A new procedure will allow caseworkers instead of child protective investigators to look into such reports if the alleged perpetrator is at least 13 years old.
The shift could spare child protection workers from investigating about 75 reports per month, according to a June 7 memo by former hotline chief Christine McMillon-Lane.
 

'A Canada Fit For Children'
"Growing up without food or proper clothing is really hard on young people. Imagine life without the basic things that you know other people take for granted."
Poverty and abuse top the list of the main concerns among Canadian young people, according to a report released today by Save the Children Canada, in association with the Canadian Government.
A Canada Fit For Children is a compilation of the voices of over 1,200 young people from across the country on the most important issues in their lives today.
In preparation for the upcoming United Nations Special Session on Children 2001 in September, the Canadian Government commissioned Save the Children Canada to survey Canadian young people about the most important issues in their lives. This information was crucial for the Canadian Government to formulate their contribution toward the UN's next 10-year plan of action, entitled A World Fit For Children, which outlines a new global commitment to improve the lives of children around the world. This document will include the many concerns of Canadian young people.
 

Juvenile placement options in Florida
A juvenile sentenced to serve time in Florida can go to one of three types of lockups: juvenile, youthful offender or select young adult offender. The last category was created because of a new state law that segregates teenage prisoners from adults.
Juvenile facilities: The Department of Juvenile Justice handles most of Florida's young offenders. Its residential facilities provide counseling and rehabilitation programs, including school work and military-style physical training, that are not offered to the same extent in the adult system. They are not designed to handle long-term, violent prisoners. Though inmates are not given a specific sentence length, the average term is about 18 months.
Youthful offender facilities: Juveniles sentenced as adults who were under 16 at the time of the crime, and who have not been in prison before, fall into the Department of Corrections' youthful offender program. Inmates up to age 24 are housed in separate facilities from adults and are provided with academic, vocational and work programs.
Select Young Adult Offender wing: Located at the Marion Correctional Institution, this facility, which will open Wednesday, will house up to 34 teens. It will hold offenders who committed their crimes when they were 16 or 17, or who have been in prison before. Teens housed in this wing will have no contact with adults, and will be offered youthful-offender programs.
 

Conference hears Safe-Sex Backlash Levels AIDS Death Decline
The battle against HIV and AIDS has taken a disturbing new turn.  Scientists and healthcare experts who gathered for a conference on HIV prevention in Atlanta heard that the dramatic decline in death rates from AIDS has leveled off. CBS's Mark Strassman reports.
In an ominous sign of what may lie ahead, more and more people who are HIV positive-- and know it--have given up on safe sex.
33-year-old HIV-positive Glenn Faulk says: "People are tired of having safe sex. There's no question about that. I'm one of those people, too, even though I know better."
Despite knowing better, and despite two decades of AIDS awareness, studies suggest that more gay and bisexual men are now having unprotected sex than are practicing safe sex.
At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention--the CDC--that new complacency is worrisome. "We are seeing in some populations the same levels of new infections that we saw at the beginning of the epidemic," says Dr. Helene Gayle, HIV prevention director at the CDC.
 

 14 August 2001 

Homeless youths report drug abuse, 'survival sex'
Drug and alcohol abuse among Denver street youth is rampant, and more than one out of 10 who took part in a survey had engaged in "survival sex," exchanging their bodies for money, food, shelter and drugs.
Conducted by the staff of Urban Peak, a shelter for homeless and runaway youths, and by Addiction Research & Treatment Services, a program of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the survey took place from 8 a.m. to midnight March 15. Close to 200 street-dependent youths were surveyed throughout Denver; three-quarters were between 16 and 25. Survey results showed:
� 42 percent of homeless youths report using marijuana daily.
� 8 percent drink alcohol daily.
� 4 percent use heroin or other opiates daily; 13 percent of needle users had shared.
� 17 percent use Ecstasy one to three times a month.

� 11 percent use ketamine, an animal tranquilizer, one to three times a month.
 

Crime chiefs at odds on heroin ...
The Australian Federal Police Commissioner yesterday backed Prime Minister John Howard's rejection of a heroin trial, putting two of the nation's top crime-fighting agencies at odds over how to tackle the drug problem. Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty yesterday denied law enforcement agencies were losing the war against drugs and said a heroin trial would only succeed in sending mixed messages to Australian youth.
"We have had some major successes ... in the last 12 months to two years we have seized over one-and-a-half tonnes of heroin ... There is a heroin drought," he told The Age.
Large seizures, a big decline in heroin overdose deaths and an increasing street price for heroin were evidence that the war on drugs was being won, he said.
 

... Australian Crime Agency Backs Heroin Prescriptions
As a means of discouraging drug trafficking, Australia's National Crime Authority (NCA) is recommending that doctors be allowed to supply heroin to addicted individuals, Reuters reported Aug. 8. The NCA believes legalizing heroin prescriptions would control the growing market for the drug and eliminate profits from the illicit drug trade.
According to a 1998 government survey of drug use, 0.7 percent of the population over age 15 used heroin, up from 0.4 percent in 1995.
The NCA proposal was rejected by Australia's ruling Conservative Party. "I am totally opposed to any trial," Prime Minister John Howard told parliament. He said the rising use of heroin should be addressed through law enforcement, education, and treatment.
On the other hand, the opposition Labor party, which is running close in the polls with the government for the year-end election, supports the NCA proposal. "We would view it favorably and we would look at our international obligations to see what we need to do to clear it," said Labor leader Kim Beazley.
 

Scotland: Police condemn protest for worst violence in decades
Strathclyde Police yesterday said the "mindless violence" which erupted after Tuesday�s Govanhill Baths protest was the worst directed at the force in almost 30 years.
Senior officers said a violent minority of local youths had hijacked an otherwise peaceful demonstration with the sole intent of injuring officers in the line of duty.
The remarks came after an officer who suffered a broken nose and cracked teeth in the trouble said it was the worst violence he had seen in 23 years� service.
 

Scientific Panel Educates Media About 'Copycat' Suicides
Overly simplistic, dramatic or glamorous media depictions of suicide may encourage others to take their own lives, a national panel of scientists said Thursday. It is issuing guidelines to media outlets on how to approach stories that involve suicide.
"The media often look for simple explanations as the cause of a suicide," said Dr. Herbert Hendin, medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), "when in fact, the cause of an individual suicide is invariably more complicated than a recent painful event such as the break-up of a relationship or the loss of a job."
Numerous studies have suggested that suicide rates rise after extensive media coverage of a particular suicide, especially if the event involved a celebrity. Too often, television and print reporters hype the more maudlin, dramatic aspects of the case, according to experts from the AFSP, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and elsewhere.
 

 13 August 2001 

UK: Young offenders 'denied fresh air'
Some inmates in youth jails hardly ever get out into the sunlight and fresh air and are living in conditions which fall short of international standards, according to research by the Howard League for Penal Reform.
The claim that some youths only got to breathe fresh air when they were moved between units was made in the first two of a series of research studies into conditions inside young offenders' institutions.
The inquiries at Lancaster Farms, near Lancaster, and Castington, Northumberland, claimed that boys suffered widespread bullying, lack of specialist help, and were given little preparation for their release.
The Howard League said that 55% of inmates at Castington said they had been involved in a bullying incident in the previous week. Some officers were dismissive to children who harmed themselves with one officer referring to a boy who persistently cut himself as "Slasher".
 

Canada: BC axes child-care program, six-year advocate
The B.C. Liberals began carving up the former NDP government's legacy yesterday. In one fell swoop entitled Bill 11, the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, Attorney-General Geoff Plant cut away at some of the NDP's most cherished initiatives.
Gone is the NDP's ambitious child-care program, which would have cost $480 million over five years. The Liberals say they'll have their own program in place by the new year. Also officially gone is photo radar.
"During the election, we said we will reserve the right to amend, repeal or replace NDP legislation," Plant said in explaining the moves.
One change involves the independent Child, Youth and Family Advocate, previously hired for a six-year term. Instead of hiring a six-year advocate, Plant prefers an interim advocate. He said this will save the government if it decides to eliminate the post altogether.
"He's abandoning the whole principle of an independent advocate for the rights of children," said NDP Leader Joy MacPhail.
 

Philippines: WB gives $1 million for street children education
The World Bank has granted $1 million to a consortium of publlic, private and non-profit organizations to support projects for the education of Filipino street children.
To keep these children in school and off the streets, this unique consortium is supported by the World Bank.
The consortium focuses on poor families hardest hit by the East Asian financial crisis. It aims to expand options for children and youth.
Due to poverty, at least five million children and youth in the Philippines are in the streets. Only 7 out of 10 firstgraders actually finish sixth grade; 4 out of 10 graduate from high school. The drop-outs are often forced onto the streets, selling sampaguita garlands and cigarettes. At the extreme, they get themselves involved in petty crimes or, to get temporary relief, in illegal and harmful drugs.
The program supports education for children including life skills and value training and employment opportunities. The parents, meanwhile, attend care and parent-effectiveness seminars. The consortium has far approved several sub-projects; 100 proposals are being processed.
 

US: One-parent homes are on the increase
Single parenthood, despite its challenges and tribulation, is increasing in Washington state. The U.S. census reports that 22.2 percent of all children in the state live in single-parent households, up from 19.6 percent in 1990. Nationwide, an estimated 27 percent of all children live in single-parent households.
Rates in Washington are highest among African Americans, with 45.4 percent of children under 18 in single-parent households, a jump from 42.3 percent in 1990. Rates for whites also increased, from 17.8 percent in 1990 to 20.2 percent in 2000. Rates for Native American children increased slightly, to 36.9 percent, while percentages decreased less than 1 percent for both Hispanics, now 24.7 percent, and Asian/Pacific Islanders, now 15.5 percent, the census found.
As more children live with one parent, the state must step in and help single parents learn to cope and create a healthy home life, children's advocates say.
"My view is that first, we have to give support to the parent to be a good parent," says Sadikifu Akina-James, manager of King County's division of community services.
 

Ireland: Big rise in statements to child abuse commission
The commission set up by the Government to investigate child abuse has finished accepting statements from people wishing to give evidence before it. A spokesman for the Laffoy Commission said yesterday that the number of statements received had risen "considerably' in recent week as the July 31st deadline approached.
According to the interim report of commission chairwoman Ms Justice Laffoy, published in May, some 1,250 statements were received. "It's gone up considerably since then," the spokesman told The Irish Times. "But the commission does not want to disclose the exact numbers at this stage."
The spokesman said the commission's investigation committee would begin hearing cases in the autumn. "We will be listing cases from September."
 

Judge says parents should foot bill
Vanderburgh Juvenile Judge Brett Niemeier told the County Council on Tuesday he would like to start making parents pay for the cost of detaining their children. Niemeier asked the council, during hearings Tuesday on the proposed 2002 county budget, for an extra employee to collect from parents financially able to pay the cost of detention. He said to detain juveniles will cost Vanderburgh County about $2.5 million by the end of the year. Last year, only $9,371 was collected from parents in Vanderburgh County.
Niemeier presented the council with the statistics provided by the Indiana Supreme Court, which shows that the parents of juvenile offenders in Elkhart County paid in $342,467.
�I think parents should pay when it is financially feasible for them,� the judge told the council.
 

 10 August 2001 

Australia: Aborigines seek end to mandatory sentencing
Aboriginal groups are pressing the Australian parliament to override mandatory sentencing laws that specify prison sentences for minor offenses, saying that they are racially discriminatory and in breach of international treaty obligations.
That was the crux of the testimony this week of the country's main Aboriginal organization, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), before an Australian parliamentary committee. The Senate committee inquiry into the mandatory sentencing laws is reviewing a private members' bill introduced by Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown that would override the mandatory sentencing laws passed by the Northern Territory and West Australian.
At the center of the controversy are Northern Territory laws, introduced in 1997, which require adults convicted of a property offence receive a mandatory sentence of two weeks' jail. Those under the age of 17 who are convicted of a second property offense face a mandatory sentence of 28 days in jail. For adults convicted of certain property offenses, the legislation provides for 14 days' imprisonment for first offenders, 90 days for second offenders and one year for third offenders.
 

France: Authorities find parties nothing to rave about
To the young, they are free-for-alls of drug-induced revelry and thumping techno beats in bucolic French countryside. To President Jacques Chirac, they are a growing problem.
Rave parties, Dionysian fests involving abundant marijuana, heroin, cocaine and especially the designer drug Ecstasy, have been around for about a decade in Europe. But now, with five rave-related deaths reported in a year and increasing property damage, they are drawing the attention of France's political establishment.
Since July 2000, at least five people have died in connection with rave parties in France - two of drug overdoses, one who fell off a roof, one who fell into frigid water and one in a drug-related shooting. In July, two women were raped at a rave in eastern France.  While there is little talk in other European countries of legislating raves, Chirac used his traditional July 14 TV interview to step into the debate, saying a new law might be needed - although he hoped it wouldn't be necessary.
 

Zero tolerance is not working in The Netherlands.
In the fight against street violence, the police could be doing better in preventing crime through closer contacts with the ringleaders. That's the conclusion reached by experts in Groningen from their investigations in the aftermath of riots in Groningen in 1997 and Amsterdam in 1998.
How should crime amongst the young be tackled? The trend seems to be gradually changing from alternative forms of punishment into a tough approach. For some time, the Chief of Police in Utrecht has been pleading for a tough response to rebellious Moroccan youths in his city. Zero tolerance seems to be the magic phrase: punish the offenders immediately. Nevertheless, there are all kinds of projects to put problem children back on the right path. Therefore the investigators in Groningen want to know how things got out of hand in Groningen and Amsterdam, in order to learn lessons for the future.
 

Malaysia: Proposal to jail juveniles gets mixed responses
The proposal to jail young offenders who commit serious crimes has received a mixed response with teenagers generally cautious about the proposal.  Federation of Peninsular Malay Students (GPMS) president Datuk Suhaimi Ibrahim said the proposal came at the right time as juveniles had no regard for the law.
Delinquent youngsters are aware that they will not face harsh sentences if they are involved in heinous crimes. The implementation of the new law could discourage them from committing such offences, he said. He said some juveniles did not have any qualms about being sent to rehabilitation schools as this was not regarded as severe punishment. The solution is to put them in rehabilitation centres until they turn 18 before sending them to jail, Suhaimi said.
The proposal, he said, was important as youngsters had been exploited by irresponsible elements in the past into committing crimes knowing that juveniles would not be sentenced to long imprisonment. Those under 18, could be manipulated by criminals who use them to commit murders and even armed robbery, he added.
He was commenting on Minister in the Prime Ministers Department, Datuk Rais Yatims statement that he would propose that the Government should amend the law to enable young offenders who commit serious crimes to be jailed.
 

US: Spike in Female Juvenile Violence Prompts Multitude of Explanations
If little girls are made of "sugar and spice, and everything nice," as the old song puts it, then why are so many more of them getting arrested for violent behavior?
That�s what some public health and education experts gathered to determine at a U.S. Department of Education Safe & Drug Free Schools conference in Washington this week.
For one public health advocate, the gender equality efforts over the last 20 years � coupled with a general increase in mean-spiritedness � have pressured girls to become more aggressive to the point of violence.  "If you live in a society where violence equals power ... then everyone is going to aspire to that," said Dr. Deborah B. Prothrow-Stith, a professor of public health practices at Harvard University.
According to Department of Justice juvenile crime statistics, the rate of violent crimes perpetuated by women more than doubled from 1987 to 1994. In 1997, females represented 26 percent of all juvenile arrests, 16 percent of all violent crime, 6 percent of homicides, 21 percent of aggravated assault and 9 percent of all robberies.
 

'You're too young for sex' : Clinics in Soweto are failing to help youths seeking sexual advice and treatment
The rights to confidentiality and privacy, informed consent and access to health care are in South Africa's "patients' rights charter". But at Pimville clinic in Soweto, these seem to be privileges rather than rights.
Teenagers seeking advice and treatment on sex, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are sent from pillar to post in a bureaucratic maze, refused treatment and sometimes insulted by medical practitioners at the clinic.
Palesa Tlou (17) and Thato Lebese (18), both high school students, were refused pregnancy testing at the clinic. Tlou was told by a nurse that she was "too young to get involved in sexual activities. What do you know about pregnancy?"
Another nurse told Lebese that she couldn't get a pregnancy test just because she was "late". Lebese arrived at school, a kilometre from the clinic, at 9.30am after her visit to the clinic.
 

New Zealand: Teenagers assault welfare home staff
Frightened staff at a home run by the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services locked themselves in a room after youths armed with lengths of timber started a riot.
Two staff members were assaulted during the riot at the Lower North Youth Justice Residential Centre in Palmerston North just before 11 pm on Monday.
Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Sheridan, of Palmerston North CIB, said police arrived to find that five staff on night duty at the Mohaka Place centre had locked themselves in a control room.  Youths were attacking the room with lengths of wood from broken furniture and had set a mattress on fire.
About 30 police, including dog handlers, brought the riot under control and helped staff to a secure area. Firefighters extinguished the fire, which had damaged internal walls. Detective Senior Sergeant Sheridan said the staff members were badly shaken by the riot.
 

 9 August 2001 

In reversal, church backs a bill on reporting abuse
In a significant reversal, the Catholic Church withdrew its opposition yesterday to a bill that would force clergy to report suspected child abuse to the state. The church said it will now work to ensure the bill's passage, but declined to say why it changed its position.
Just last week, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Boston Archdiocese, had said the bill was vaguely worded and would destroy the holy relationship between priest and parishioner. But yesterday, Catholic Conference executive director Gerald D'Avolio released a statement in support of the legislation.
 

Doctor warns hepatitis A outbreak could hit Vancouver street youth
An outbreak of hepatitis A could hit Vancouver's street youth unless a vaccination program to protect the "vulnerable" population is introduced, a doctor says.
Dr. Jan Ochnio, an immunologist at the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at B.C. Children's Hospital, conducted the first study in North America of at-risk street youth to determine the likelihood of widespread infection in that group. Ochnio's study is to be published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Hepatitis A is a viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver. It can be transmitted through food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person where there are poor hygienic and sanitary conditions.
Universal vaccination programs for children and youth are used in some parts of the United States with high rates of hepatitis A. Ochnio said that in Canada, a hepatitis A vaccine is targeted at high-risk groups, such as injection-drug users and gay men.
According to statistics from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the rate of infection in 1998 was 9,600 people per 100,000 in B.C., compared with the Canadian average of 3,600. But Ochnio said his study shows that 94 per cent of Vancouver's street youth are susceptible to hepatitis A and that it's time a vaccination program were started for them.
 

Ireland: Staffing crisis hits units for young offenders
Two residential units for young offenders have closed and another has failed to open because of a staffing shortage. Almost a third of childcare staff have left to take up better-paid positions elsewhere and 24 out of 114 residential places are closed as a result.
IMPACT, the union representing staff at the units, said yesterday the staffing crisis "could lead to a collapse of the system this summer".  Union representative Mr Robbie Ryan said units in three out of five centres run by the Department of Education are already closed. These are the Oberstown Girls' Centre and a unit in the Child and Adolescent Centre in Finglas. A third unit, at Oberstown Boys' Centre, is ready to open but is unable to because of staffing problems.
 

 8 August 2001 

Treatment for drug-addicted teens "not available" in Ontario
Drug-addicted children whose parents can't pay for expensive out-of-province treatment programs have nowhere to turn in Ontario, experts and families say.
Members of one Ontario family that recently sent a 15-year-old son out of the country for drug addiction treatment are now battling the province's health insurance plan to get coverage for the thousands of dollars they say they had no choice but to pay. "It's scandalous," said David Baker, the family's lawyer, who is representing the confidential case now before the Health Services Appeal Review Board.
"(Their son) was in a crisis situation and rather than allow him to remain in a crisis . . . the family accessed out-of-country supports for him."
Baker is also launching a constitutional challenge asserting the boy's right to treatment under the Canada Health Act is being denied.
 

Adolescent suicide attempts higher among adoptees, study concludes
Adopted adolescents are more than twice as likely to attempt suicide than their nonadopted peers - although few actually try, a study shows.
The results, published in this month's issue of Pediatrics, were compiled from questionnaires given to 6,577 seventh- to 12th-graders across the nation in 1995. Of those, 214 were adopted.  Researchers say the data do not indicate whether the risk is higher as a result of adoption, genetics or the instability of foster care before placement in a permanent home.
Of the 213 youngsters who said they'd attempted suicide within the previous year, 16 were adopted and 197 were not. That translates to 7.5 percent of the adopted children and 3.1 percent of the nonadopted youngsters.
 

UK: Kent has 1,200 child asylum-seekers in care
More than 1,200 child asylum-seekers � some as young as eight � have been taken into care by Kent social services after arriving in Britain without a parent or guardian.
The influx of unaccompanied minors has spiralled over the last two years. According to the Department of Health, local authorities across England are looking after 6,000 children, compared with 2,500 in 1999.
The problem is most acute in Kent, where figures reveal a stream of more than 100 children arriving every month. Most have been brought from Middle Eastern or Eastern European countries by gangs of professional traffickers.
 

Foster-care system to be scrutinized by its charges
The act of writing can bring with it sanity, relief, a brief respite from chaos.
Julia Higuera, Amanda Shaman and Eli Wilson can tell you about the need to write, to scribble a thought in a journal or pencil a line of poetry on any scrap of paper to help explain their capricious lives in the foster-care system.
Now they've discovered a new purpose for their pens, a new rush: journalism.
Higuera, 21; Shaman, 18; and Wilson, 19, are the staff writers of the Mockingbird Times � a new publication written by youths who have been or are in the foster-care system. It will be no small feat when their first monthly edition makes its debut Thursday.
They were the troublemakers, the runaways and homeless teens who were supposed to be indifferent and incapable of anything but anger. But as journalists, they hope to prove those labels and expectations wrong. As they see it, the Mockingbird Times will be a voice for the voiceless and will offer a perspective often missing in the discussion of foster care.
 

 7 August 2001 

US law giving juveniles adult time under fire : Recidivism big issue among youths in jail
Two state senators, a Democrat and a Republican, say it's time to investigate whether the 5-year-old "adult time for adult crime" law in Pennsylvania has lived up to its promise of better protecting the public from violent juvenile criminals.
The pair, Sen. Allen G. Kukovich, D-Manor, and Sen. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, also said the state should look at whether the "get tough" solutions of other states might work better than Pennsylvania's system.
Kukovich, who opposed the original "adult time" law, said the fifth anniversary of the legislation was a good time to examine whether it was fulfilling its intent. Murphy, who was not in office when the law was passed in 1995, agreed.
"When you look at what was done in 1995, it was part of the gubernatorial campaign of 1994 that was a reaction to high crime and homicides of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and there was a need to crack down on that," he said.
Now, he said, "is a natural time to reflect on whether it did what it was intended to do or whether it had some unintended consequences that caused harm."
 

Fathers' group helps dads be better parents : Learning to handle emotions, including anger, is stressed
It is stuffy after hours in the Howard County Department of Social Services meeting room as five men - all fathers from their late 20s through early 40s - talk with Sherman W. Minor, leader of the county's newly convened "Men's Group," about their problems.
Robert grew up without a father, so he was intent on providing his 4-year-old son the full nuclear family experience. But it has not worked out that way - he and his son's mother are apart - and he's wrestling with strong emotions, trying to put his son's care first and perhaps let go of his ideal of a marriage. Ali is about to be laid off, and he is living in a house with 10 other people. He is angry at what he thinks are big, greedy, thoughtless corporations, but he is afraid he will take that anger out on those closest to him - people he loves but who give him no peace, he says.
 

UK: Prison education system badly letting down young offenders
The prison education system solely exists to improve the basic skills of those behind bars and to transform their self-confidence and beliefs. However, a report published yesterday by the Howard League for Penal Reform (HLPC), suggests that it is failing dismally. Young offenders in England are, in fact, getting a sub-standard education that merely increases the likelihood that they will re-offend.
More than 300 school-aged boys and girls are in juvenile prison units in England. Of the 84 boys aged 15 who were questioned by Lorraine Atkinson, the study�s author, many suffered from classes disrupted by prison routines, a lack of continuity in education before and after their sentence and being taught by poorly qualified teachers.
It is the HLPC�s belief that all young offenders should be removed from prisons and placed instead in the Department of Health�s secure units, which hold about 120 ten to 17-year-olds in England, and are run by local education authorities. With more funding, there is a greater emphasis placed on the importance of education in these units, and standards of teaching are generally much higher than in prisons. Most teachers in the secure establishments have a postgraduate certificate in education and have appropriate experience in teaching the under-16s � a far cry from what is provided in juvenile prisons.
 

 6 August 2001 

Irish children able to hire x-rated video
Video stores in Dublin are renting out Natural Born Killers and other violent over-18 films to minors, a Sunday Times survey has found.
Teenagers as young as 14 had no difficulty hiring the controversial film from outlets of large video chains last week, despite the fact it was banned in Irish cinemas for violent content. No video shop refused to rent out the film to the youngsters.
The Sunday Times sent three teenagers, aged 14, 16 and 17, into seven Dublin outlets to rent Natural Born Killers on Friday afternoon. Only one was challenged about her age, but she was still allowed to rent an over-18s movie after she said she was below the age limit.
 

Australia: Parents denied children's secrets
Parents have been warned their children can legally withhold from them details of school records, bank accounts and medical treatment.
The federal and NSW privacy commissioners issued the warning after the Foreign Affairs Department was told it could not disclose the whereabouts of a runaway girl to her parents because she wanted her location overseas kept secret. The girl, 15, remains overseas, and her parents were forced to find her independently of the department.
Under the law, any child judged mature enough can refuse permission for their parents to be given information about them held by others.
The laws cover information held in the public and private sectors.
 

Canada: Provinces to set up sex-offender registry registry
Canada's premiers pledged Friday to create a national sex offender registry and to make it harder for deadbeat parents to avoid paying child support. The leaders gathered at the annual premiers conference in Victoria.
The list of resolutions caps a productive three days of meetings for the premiers, who went into the conference Wednesday with deep divisions that some said would scuttle the possibility of progress on key issues such as health care funding. It also marks a minor success for , who chaired the conference.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said the premiers will work together to create an inter-provincial sex offender database so the provinces can share information when pedophiles move. Ontario already has a registry in place, British Columbia recently enacted legislation to establish one here, and Alberta is pursuing ways to set up its own. The others have yet to decide how they'll set up theirs and how they'll be linked.
 

Oz parents to be fined $1250 for truants
Parents of truant children face fines of up to $1250 under proposed changes to the Education Act. The clampdown also would see children who repeatedly failed to attend school without a valid reason front a truancy panel.
State Education Minister Malcolm Buckby said the proposed changes were in response to strong community pressure to strengthen truancy rules.
More than 5000 submissions were received by the Government as part of the Education Act review public consultation process.  Under the changes, the Minister would be given the power to convene a truancy panel, consisting of an experienced teacher outside the child's school, a behavioural expert, a skilled child support services representative and anyone else the Minister considered necessary.
The Minister also may require a parent or guardian and a child to appear before the panel. Parents who do not co-operate with ensuring their child's regular school attendance would be fined up to $1250.
 

China: UNICEF Promotes "Say Yes for Children" Campaign
Yue-Sai Kan, one of United Nation' s distinguished promoters for the "Say Yes for Children" campaign, has called for more public support from China for the worldwide pledging program at a recent press conference in Beijing.
As a key part for the Global Movement for Children, which was conducted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the "Say Yes for Children" campaign invites people to sign a sample pledge form to show their support in offering a better world for children.
The pledge form lists 10 imperative actions and responsibilities needed to improve the lives of children and adolescents everywhere. These actions highlight the importance of educating every child, protecting children from war, fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS and protect the earth for children.
The campaign is determined to deliver the clear and unmistakable message that the citizens of the world care about children and expect governments to keep the promises they make to them, according to the UNICEF.
 

 3 August 2001 

UK: Curfew law impossible to enforce, say campaigners
New laws to allow police to keep teenagers off the streets could prove as unworkable as the infamous Dangerous Dogs Act, crime reduction campaigners said last night.
The Home Office has given local authorities and the police powers to ban all children under the age of 16 in designated areas from leaving their homes at night, in an effort to reduce anti-social behaviour in high-crime neighbourhoods.
But the curfews, introduced as part of the Criminal Justice and Police Act, risk undermining relations between young people and the police and could exacerbate racial tensions, it was claimed yesterday.
Chris Stanley, a spokesman for the crime-fighting charity Nacro, said: "These powers could well end up becoming the Dangerous Dogs Act of the juvenile justice system, popular with no one and virtually impossible to enforce."
Story

The UN General Assembly is preparing for its final Special Session of the year: a summit on the world's children that will confront national leaders with a single question. "Can you make good on your promises?" It will cap an unprecedented twelve-month period in which global leaders gathered under the auspices of the United Nations to focus on issues such as the plight of the world's poorest countries, AIDS, urban settlement, small arms, and racism.
The Special Session on Children, which will be held in New York from September 19-21, takes place a little over a decade after world leaders proclaimed at the groundbreaking World Summit for Children that "there can be no task nobler than giving every child a better future."
That summit, held in September of 1990, became the first conference of its kind, focusing the attention of world governments on the needs of the world's children. More importantly, it set a precedent with an action plan comprised of concrete, detailed, and time-bound goals focused on child survival, protection and development.
 

Oregon caseworker will contest firing
A state caseworker who sat in a car reading a newspaper while the woman he was supervising allegedly strangled her daughter will contest his dismissal from the Oregon Office of Services to Children and Families.
Dale Kraft, 51, will get a hearing before agency managers Friday to protest his termination.
Kraft, a veteran state employee only a short time away from being eligible to retire after 30 years with full benefits, is entitled under his union contract to defend his job in a hearing.
Last week, the state announced plans to dismiss Kraft. It did not explain the exact reasons but said he gave inconsistent answers during a state Department of Justice investigation of Alexis Lopez's death.
 

 2 August 2001 

UK: Curfews promised for trouble spots
Children under 16 in Greater Manchester could soon have night-time curfews imposed on them.
Salford City Council is already considering taking adavantage of new legislation, on estates where gangs of youths have terrorised residents.
Councillor David Lancaster, the lead member on crime and disorder at the council, told BBC News Online: "I am pretty certain we would use them under the right conditions. We have had specific problems in a number of estates, and where parents cannot take responsibility we have to act."
 

Russia: Very young are part of drinking problem
In Russia, they have a drinking problem which is "a national disaster," says Vladimir Batisev, a psychiatrist specialising in treating alcoholism, in a 1 August report on Dateline (SBS, 8.30pm).
For while there are three million alcoholics in Russia, according to official estimates, it is reckoned by those in the know that the figure is closer to 30 million. Which is a lot of drinking by any calculation.
It begins when Russians are very young. Beer is cheaper than water and not considered an alcoholic beverage. The advertisers, who target the youth demographic, ensure that getting rat-arsed is equated with success and sociability.
 

Nebraska controversy over service providers
A long-simmering controversy over who should be working with troubled families in Southeast Nebraska has come to a head. State Health and Human Services System leaders have said the Region V mental health system will be asked to rewrite a bid proposal for a $350,000 program that serves troubled juveniles and their families.
The bid proposal written by Region V staff appears to preclude all existing local agencies that might be able to offer the service and to guarantee that Region V would get the $350,000 contract.
The conflict between the region and local social services agencies has been brewing for years. Local agencies that provide mental health services to juveniles have complained the Region V program has a conflict of interest because the staff provides some direct services and also picks which agencies get state funding for services.
"Any agency that is both a funder and a provider of direct service puts itself into an awkward position," said Kit Boesch, Lancaster County's human services administrator. "It is truly a conflict of interest."
 

Australian government launches school-based drugs scheme
The Federal Government yesterday launched its Local School-Community Drug Summit initiative at the Enfield Primary School in Adelaide. The $5 million plan will see schools organising their local police, doctors, and other agencies in their own summits, with students to tackle the issues.
The parliamentary secretary for education, training and youth affairs, Trish Worth, says long-term early education on drugs has a better chance of working.
"We're deliberately doing it at a primary school...because we know that's where it must start," she said. "If we forget about it until the children get to high school, then we are just neglecting our duty because there will already be the opportunities to have drugs offered to them."
 

US: County will build juvenile facility
The Evansville county has decided against a plan from a nonprofit, religious organization that wanted to expand its youth detention facility for county use. The two Democratic members of the County Commissioners voted Monday for the county to build its own holding facility with beds for 20 to 24 juveniles.
The vote from Democrats David Mosby and Catherine Fanello will authorize a design team to include a planned juvenile facility in architectural plans for new detention facilities, including a jail.
 

Australia: NT juvenile detention rates no longer country's worst
The Northern Territory no longer has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of juvenile incarceration in the country. The Australian Institute of Criminology has released its statistics on juvenile detention for 2000.
The statistics show 15 males aged 10 to 17 were put in detention in the Northern Territory between 1999 and 2000. While the Territory's incarceration rate went up marginally, with one extra person detained last year, Tasmania had the highest average incarceration of juveniles for the period.
The Territory's juvenile detention rate is 0.1 per cent lower than in 1998, when 25 young people, all male, were placed in detention.
However, the most recent statistics do not account for the changes the Territory Government brought in to divert juveniles from the courts as part of the Federal Government's $20 million, four-year mandatory sentencing deal.
 

 1 August 2001 

California: Foster care legislation stripped, delayed a year
A comprehensive package of bills designed to reform California's downtrodden and under-funded foster care system has been whittled down and delayed another year because of budget deficits.
Monday, Gov. Gray Davis signed the only major foster care reform measure that will survive this session. The $18 million jobs-and-housing program, which is part of the 2001-02 state budget, is designed to help teenagers who leave foster care.
The Assembly started the legislative year promising $300 million in reforms that ranged from increasing the amount foster care parents are paid to reducing the workload for county case workers. It was the most significant series of reforms proposed in decades.
The Legislature was reacting to an independent report issued last year that warned of a "public calamity" created by the state's foster care system, and by the stories of foster children and parents who lobbied lawmakers.
But legislative budget writers, with tacit support from Davis, gutted many of the changes. The energy crisis and economic slowdown left the state government with $3.5 billion less than expected, and another $4 billion deficit is predicted for next year.
 

New director to start Aug. 6 at Ward Youth Services
The Rev. Stephen L. Vinson will take over the helm of the Ward Youth and Family Services as executive director on Aug. 6. He replaces the Rev. Hollis Davidson, who died in February. Ward, a private not-for-profit agency affiliated with the United Methodist Church Union of Pittsburgh, serves youth and children in foster care and independent living programs in Allegheny County.
At one time, its administrative offices at 50 Moffett St., Mt. Lebanon, also acted as a home for ward-of-the-court youngsters who were victims of neglect or abuse.
Vinson, 46, has more than nine years of administrative experience in human services, serving as executive director of the Circle of Care in Oklahoma City, as regional administrator for Holston Home in Tennessee and, most recently, as vice president for community and donor relations at Gateway-Longview in Williams-ville, N.Y.
 

US and Canada: Welfare-to-work hurts teens
When parents move from welfare to work, some of their adolescent children encounter unexpected difficulties from declining grades to increased smoking and drinking, according to an analysis of three welfare reform programs released today.
The problems of adolescents are a contrast to the experience of younger children, who appear to benefit from their parents joining the workforce, according to the study by Child Trends. The nonpartisan Washington research center analyzed data on tens of thousands of people enrolled in welfare-to-work programs in Florida, Minnesota and Canada.
Adolescents with parents in the Canadian welfare-to-work program smoked and drank more often, were more likely to be involved in delinquent activity and saw their grades drop.
There were no measures on which the adolescents with parents in the three welfare-to-work programs performed better than the comparison group. The programs help recipients transition to the workforce by requiring them to work or enroll in job training while still receiving welfare payments, and by providing support, such as child care and transportation.
But even given the problems raised by the Child Trends survey, the overall effects of welfare reform are still positive, said Ron Haskins, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who helped draft the original welfare reform legislation. "Many more people are working and have left the welfare rolls. Poverty has declined among black kids ... But the Child Trends findings make sense."
The report is by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corp. in New York, which evaluates welfare reform programs.
 

Offenders threaten counselors on camp-out
Armed with rocks and logs, a handful of juvenile offenders camping in a remote wilderness area over the weekend threatened to kill their supervisors and tried to escape.
Mesa County deputies hiked an hour into the Uncompahgre Plateau near the west end of Campbell Point on Sunday morning to arrest five of the nine teens, all participants in a program run by Alternative Youth Adventures of Colorado, officials said.
"Usually this Alternative Youth Adventures handles this all on their own," said Mesa County Sheriff's Sgt. Laurie Galvan. "But because these kids were getting out of control, they called us."
 

Teens tell panel about the highs, lows of Ecstasy
Philip McCarthy just wanted to have as much fun as the other kids when he took Ecstasy for the first time at a house party in a New York City suburb. 
"I spent years chasing the first, magical high and that chase almost killed me," said Dayna Moore, one of two teen-agers to appear before a Senate committee to talk about the dangers of Ecstasy, or X.  Soon the 17-year-old was hooked and stealing televisions and VCRs to support a $300-a-week drug habit.
When he was on Ecstasy, "I felt like the world was glowing with love and my body felt unreal," McCarthy, of Central Islip, N.Y., told the Senate Government Affairs Committee, led by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Monday at a hearing on Ecstasy's quick growth.
"It was a high I definitely wanted again," said McCarthy, who is currently in drug treatment.
"While users of club drugs often take them simply for energy to keep on dancing or partying, research shows these drugs can have long-lasting negative effects on the brain that can alter memory and other behaviors," said Alan I. Leshner, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. He said more public education about the drug's dangers, including heart, kidney and brain damage, is essential.
McCarthy and fellow Phoenix House drug treatment program participant Dayna Moore, 16, said they knew nothing of the anger and depression that would hit after Ecstasy's high wore off. That quickly led them into cycles of addiction as they took more and more Ecstasy, which sells for $20 to $40 per pill. "It was a depression that I couldn't stand," said Moore, of Ridge, N.Y.
 

Two web sites on the side of the angels ...
I: County school board considers subscribing to anonymous service
A computer service that would allow students to anonymously report brewing violence, suicidal friends or bullying incidents without fear of retribution is being considered by the Anne Arundel school district.
Officials are looking into subscribing to an Internet program, Report-it.com, that was created soon after the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. The program, used in about a dozen states, could improve communication about safety issues between students and adults, said Jane W. Beckett, a school district spokeswoman.
A one-year contract with the online system would cost $77,880. The school board will consider the matter at its meeting Wednesday.
Anthony Lavalle, founder of the Great River, N.Y., online system, said Report-it.com was originally intended to be a general public safety resource, where community members could report problems such as potholes. But the focus turned to school violence after the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where two students killed 12 students and a teacher before shooting themselves to death. Lavalle said that after talking with students, it became clear they were uncomfortable telling adults about potential school violence because they feared reprisal. He wanted to remove that problem by giving students a way to report threats anonymously.
"Kids need a place to communicate," Lavalle said. "As an Internet tool, [Report-it.com] is very conducive to the youth today."
To report school violence, students go to www.Report-it.com, where they are encouraged to speak to their parents, guardians or someone at school. If speaking to someone directly is not an option, they can enter a Web site set up for the school and submit a report.  Report-it.com then contacts a designated school official, such as a principal or counselor, through e-mail and a phone call, informing the official that a report was filed. Lavalle said reports have included threats of suicides, weapons in school and bullying.
 

II: Website Takes On Drug Dealers
A group calling itself Dads and Mad Moms Against Drug Dealers (DAMMADD) has launched a website to take anonymous tips about drug dealers and manufacturers, the Associated Press reported July 29.  The tips received through the website are passed on to law-enforcement officials. If the tip results in an arrest and conviction, the group offers a reward -- up to $1,500 for a street-level dealer.
Steven Steiner Sr. of Tioga Center, N.Y., got the idea for the website after his 19-year-old son died last January of an overdose -- ironically, not of an illicit drug, but of the prescription painkiller OxyContin. Steiner was upset that no one was arrested for providing his son with the drug. He turned his anger into the DAMMADD website.
"I have to wake up every morning and see his picture in the living room and his urn, and it makes me damn mad," said Steiner. "That's what gives me the energy. I'm going to make a difference, there's no doubt." Since the site was launched in May, there have been 64 tips leading to four arrests.