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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
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
"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
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
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
Students also said that school shootings could be prevented if teachers
intervened more to stop verbal, physical, and emotional abuse.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- Staff members at the Youth Services
Administration, which runs Oak Hill and residential placements for
confined children, lack adequate skills for dealing with troubled
UK: Northern youth courts tougher on working
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
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
Nigeria At E9 Summit, Outlines Problems of
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
Problem youths are being put up
in motels because Child, Youth and Family cannot find caregivers for
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
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.
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
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,
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.
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
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 �
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
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
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
"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.
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
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
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
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.
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,''
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
Full report available Tuesday
Record Number of Child Delegates At Upcoming UN
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
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
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.
Junkie parents are raising 200,000 children in
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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,
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
'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
"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
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
"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
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.
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
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
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
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,
But critics of the new policies say the agency may end up endangering
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
'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
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
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
Conference hears Safe-Sex Backlash Levels AIDS
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.
Homeless youths report drug abuse, 'survival
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
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
Scientific Panel Educates Media About 'Copycat'
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
Australia: Aborigines seek end to mandatory
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
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
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
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
Zero tolerance is not working in The
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
In reversal, church backs a bill on reporting
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Foster-care system to be scrutinized by its
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
Now they've discovered a new purpose for their pens, a new rush:
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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"
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
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
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
UK: Curfew law impossible to enforce, say
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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