children


These judges should be put in jail in solitary. How much hope have they cost the kids who were innocent? Or who were only guilty of small things? What would they do if it was their own kids?

This is from the New York Times:

Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit

Niko J. Kallianiotis for The New York Times

Hillary Transue was sentenced to three months in juvenile detention for a spoof Web page mocking an assistant principal.

Published: February 12, 2009

At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.

Prosecutors say Judges Michael T. Conahan, and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., above, took kickbacks to send teenagers to detention centers.

Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.

She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.

“I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare,” said Hillary, 17, who was sentenced in 2007. “All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”

The answers became a bit clearer on Thursday as the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.

While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.

“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of anything remotely approaching this,” said Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, who was appointed by the State Supreme Court this week to determine what should be done with the estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003. Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention.

The case has shocked Luzerne County, an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that has been battered by a loss of industrial jobs and the closing of most of its anthracite coal mines.

And it raised concerns about whether juveniles should be required to have counsel either before or during their appearances in court and whether juvenile courts should be open to the public or child advocates.

If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar. They are expected to be sentenced in the next several months. Lawyers for both men declined to comment.

You’d think that they would DEFINITELY be going to jail, right?  Forever?  But the article talks about their pensions!  Like they ought to be around to enjoy them or not!

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As a kid who has been removed from my mother’s care at age 11 and had my father’s rights terminated when I was 14, and lived in several different kinds of family structures, I was very upset when I read this story in my local newspaper.  I do not think it is necessarily a good thing that CPS is  caring for  fewer children than they used to.

CPS: removals of children are down

The number of Texas children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect has declined following a series of reforms to Child Protective Services, the agency said today.

In the 2008 budget year, CPS removed 14,295 children, which is down from 15,920 in 2007 and 17,536 in 2006. That’s a decrease of 18.5 percent.

“Generally, children do better if they can remain safely with their families,” CPS spokesman Darrell Azar said. “Foster care is really intended as a last resort.”

Lawmakers passed CPS reforms in 2005 and 2007. As part of that, the state invested in programs that help keep families together, including one that provides cash assistance to certain low-income families.

“More often than not, neglect is at the heart of the problem,” rather than abuse, Azar said. “Some families are so impoverished, they can’t meet basic needs. The whole theory behind this is working with the family … to help them find the supports they need.”

Does this mean that they are removing kids just because their families are poor?  If kids really are better off with their families, then give the family the help they need to not be so poor.  Duh!

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Here are three stories involving kids and the authorities, and my opinions about all three.

When I was 14, I got into serious trouble (at home) for sending a photo of myself in a bathing suit to a good friend, and sending pics of myself fully dressed to man I knew only from the internet. I should have been in trouble. I should have gotten internet restrictions and I should have been taught why it could be a serious problem. But I am very glad I was not arrested like these kids.

Pornotots: Teens Charged With Pornography For Sharing Photos Of Themselves

300px-several_mobile_phonesProsecutors have discovered another hotbed of child pornographers: Greensburg Salem High School. Prosecutors have charged teenagers with child pornography for sharing nude and seminude pictures of themselves over cell phones. The girls are 14 or 15 and the boys are 16 or 17. Pornographers all.

Capt. George Seranko of the Greensburg Pa. Police Department explains that “It was a self portrait taken of a juvenile female taking pictures of her body, nude.” Teachers seized the cell phone and instead of just calling parents, they apparently called police as well. Additional pictures were found. The lesson, Seranko notes, is “Taking nude pictures of yourself, nothing good can come out of it.” Ok, but where to the criminal charges come into the lesson plan? It appears that turning them into felons is the way that the good people of Greensburg educate their children.

This is a national problem of teens sending semi-nude and nude pictures to friends. Should all of these children be moved into the criminal justice system?

The girls are charged with manufacturing, disseminating or possessing child pornography while the boys face charges of possession. It seems like there is a need for adult supervision at the Greensburg police and prosecution offices.

The next story is of a case that IS a problem, a case where the father should never have custody or visitation of his daughter:

Quick (depressing) hit: California man sells daughter

From the Associated Press:

Police have arrested a Greenfield man for allegedly arranging to sell his 14-year-old daughter into marriage in exchange for $16,000, 100 cases of beer and several cases of meat.Police said they only learned of the deal after the 36-year-old man went to them to get his daughter back because payment wasn’t made as promised. The man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of human trafficking.

What was that again about feminism being unnecessary? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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I do not know the real difference legally between child labor and child slavery, but I do know that it’s at least 75% a joke (maybe 80%!) when I list on my facebook that my occupation is “kitchen slave”. The girl in this article isn’t kidding and doesn’t have facebook or any other fun in her life. I work harder on chores than a lot of kids I know, but I am NOT a slave.

Child maid trafficking spreads from Africa to US

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, Associated Press Writer

 

AP – Shyima Hall, 19, who was 10 when she was trafficked to a gated community as a domestic worker, is shown …

IRVINE, Calif. – Late at night, the neighbors saw a little girl at the kitchen sink of the house next door.

They watched through their window as the child rinsed plates under the open faucet. She wasn’t much taller than the counter and the soapy water swallowed her slender arms. To put the dishes away, she climbed on a chair.

But she was not the daughter of the couple next door doing chores. She was their maid.

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I’ve written before about prison camps for teenagers and the abuse that happens there, but this one’s the worst I have seen described INSIDE the U.S. Nothing, NOTHING these girls did could justify this. Never!

AP: 13,000 abuse claims in juvie centers (AP)

ADVANCE FOR MARCH 3; graphic shows state by state statistics on juvenile abuse; two sizes; 1c x 2 1/8 inches; 46.5 mm x 54 mm; 3c x 5 7/8 inches; 146 mm x 149.2 mmAP – The Columbia Training School — pleasant on the outside, austere on the inside — has been home to 37 of the most troubled young women in Mississippi.

If some of those girls and their advocates are to be believed, it is also a cruel and frightening place.

The school has been sued twice in the past four years. One suit brought by the U.S. Justice Department, which the state settled in 2005, claimed detainees were thrown naked in to cells and forced to eat their own vomit. The second one, brought by eight girls last year, said they were subjected to “horrendous physical and sexual abuse.” Several of the detainees said they were shackled for 12 hours a day.

These are harsh and disturbing charges — and, in the end, they were among the reasons why state officials announced in February that they will close Columbia. But they aren’t uncommon.

Across the country, in state after state, child advocates have deplored the conditions under which young offenders are housed — conditions that include sexual and physical abuse and even deaths in restraints. The U.S. Justice Department has filed lawsuits against facilities in 11 states for supervision that is either abusive or harmfully lax and shoddy.

Still, a lack of oversight and nationally accepted standards of tracking abuse make it difficult to know exactly how many youngsters have been assaulted or neglected.

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And to think, the school complains about what WE eat on our own, when they serve us bad meat. I think it’s best to pack peanut butter sandwiches from home for now.

Austin school district confirms it also has possibly tainted meat

This note is displayed on the outside of crates of beef in the RRISD store room.

This note is displayed on the outside of crates of beef in the RRISD store room.
Related Links

The Austin Independent School District confirmed it has 1,000 cases of potentially bad meat on hold in its South Austin warehouse.

This news comes one day after AISD told CBS 42’s Julie Simon it hadn’t used the company in question’s meat in over a year.

This is all started after the USDA ordered all meat coming from the Westland Meat Company in California be put on hold.

Westland meat goes to school districts all across Texas. Round Rock Independent School District immediately said it had put 625 cases on hold. AISD though said it didn’t have any of the questionable beef….

That turns out to not be the case; AISD now says they did receive shipments of Westland meat as recently as last year. AISD pulled the meat from circulation once the USDA ordered a hold on all Westland beef.

The USDA ordered the hold after seeing a videotape recorded undercover by the Humane Society of the United States, which allegedly shows cattle that were too sick to walk being processed for food.

The AISD food services director says none of the meat made it into school lunches. She refused an on-camera interview Tuesday and our request to get video of the cases of beef on hold was denied.

The meat, now on hold at school districts across Texas, cannot be thrown away. Instead, the USDA has to complete its investigation and tell the districts what to do next.

So, if my parents or guardians made me sleep in a room like this

or spend all of my time lying on the floor face down like this …

they would probably get arrested, right?  Either for child abuse or neglect.

But what about if parents outsourced abusing their kids?  What if they sent thm to places where things like THIS take place?

Many who have been there describe a life of pain and fear. They say they spent 13 hours a day, for weeks or months on end, lying on their stomachs in an isolation room, their arms repeatedly twisted to the breaking point.

….

 “You could hear kids screaming when they were getting restrained,” Mr. Bucolo said. “It was horrible. They would do it behind closed doors. And say the kids were lying if they complained.”

What would you say about parents who spent $30,000 to send their kids to this place?  Or what about this one?

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I think this seems like a pretty good idea. Everyone should have rights and everyone should know their rights.  A bit surprising that the newspaper article doesn’t actually say what the rights are.  What do you think?

Texas drafts bill of rights for foster children

Similar list of rights failed in 2007 legislative session.


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Saturday, January 26, 2008A proposed bill of rights for Texas’ 17,000 foster children died in the Texas House last year after a contentious debate that one opponent said would have children demanding designer jeans. But the head of the state agency that oversees the foster care system has been quietly working to make that list of rights a reality.

Shortly after the legislative session ended in May, Commissioner Carey Cockerell of the Department of Family and Protective Services decided the agency would draft such a list, a spokesman said. That quick action came as a shock to state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, the Austin Democrat who sponsored the bill in the House and watched it get derailed on a technicality.

“I have to admit, I was very surprised — and obviously quite pleased — to hear of the department’s plans,” Rodriguez wrote in a letter to Cockerell last summer.

The agency’s list of 32 rights — plus 13 more for those 16 and older — is similar to the list in the failed legislation.

Starting in the next couple of months, foster children will be told of their right to, for example, live in a safe, healthy and comfortable place, officials said.

The children, their caregivers and their case workers will sign a form saying they have read and understand the rights.

And the state is planning to design a coloring book this summer to communicate the rights to young children, according to a draft state plan.

Texas officials say these are rights foster children already had under state law.

“The idea was, let’s collect them all and package them together and label them a bill of rights and make sure that when every child comes into care, he or she has a copy of this so there’s no misunderstanding and there’s full disclosure about what rights a child actually has and doesn’t have,” said Cockerell spokesman Patrick Crimmins.

The bill of rights made it through the Senate last year but encountered criticism in the House. State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, took issue with a provision that guarantees freedom from corporal punishment and another that guarantees foster children clothing comparable to that of other children in the community. Riddle, who said she has been a foster parent, suggested at the time that a child might “wave their bill of rights and say, ‘It is my right to have designer jeans because the neighbors have it.’ ”

But Rodriguez said that critics were simply afraid children would sue foster parents.

He said Tuesday the bill of rights would have been stronger as a state law rather than what it is now — a rule from a state agency. But he said the purpose is the same. “They have (these rights); they just don’t know that they have them,” he said.

When I was 8, 9 and 10 I was a bully. I hit and kicked other kids all the time. I never threatened a teacher though. But I could have.

This little boy threatened his teacher with a plastic knife or fork. And he had to go to jail. Would that happen in other “civilized” countries? Does it happen to white kids from good neighborhoods? It shouldn’t happen to anyone!

New Project Seeks Justice for Vulnerable Children

Darius was only 9 when he was locked up. For two months, he languished in a juvenile facility — alone, frightened. He missed his 10th birthday party. He missed Thanksgiving. He missed his stepfather’s funeral.

His offense: He had threatened a teacher with a plastic utensil.

Unfortunately, Darius’s early introduction to the juvenile justice system is not that uncommon.

Across America, countless school children — particularly impoverished children of color — are being pushed out of schools and into juvenile lock-ups for minor misconduct that in an earlier era would have warranted counseling or a trip to the principal’s office rather than a court appearance.

The problem is particularly acute in the Deep South, where one in four African Americans live in poverty.

The children and teens most at risk of entering this “school-to-prison pipeline” are those who, like Darius, have emotional troubles, educational disabilities or other mental health needs.

But rather than receiving the help they need in school, these vulnerable youths are being swept into a cold, uncaring maze of lawyers, courts, judges and detention facilities, where they are groomed for a brutal life in adult prisons.

“Our juvenile prisons and jails are overflowing with children who simply don’t belong there,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “These are the children who desperately need a helping hand. Instead, we’re traumatizing and brutalizing them — increasing the risk that they’ll end up in adult prisons. It’s tragic for the children and bad for the rest of us, because it tears apart communities, wastes millions in taxpayer dollars and does nothing to reduce crime.”

To attack this problem, the Southern Poverty Law Center has launched a multi-faceted new initiative, called the School-to-Prison Reform Project. Based in New Orleans, the project is seeking systemic reforms through legal action, community activism and lobbying to ensure these students get the services — both in school and in the juvenile justice system — that can make the difference between incarceration and graduation.

Nationwide, almost 100,000 children and teens are in custody. Black youths are vastly over-represented in this population; they are held in custody at four times the rate of white youths, according to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. Students with disabilities that would qualify them for special education services are also grossly overrepresented. Some studies suggest that as many 70 percent of children in juvenile correctional facilities have significant mental health or learning disabilities.

“These are the children left behind,” said Ron Lospennato, an SPLC lawyer who heads the new project. “They are paying a heavy price because of short-sighted policies based mainly on fear and myths. Someone must be there to catch them before they fall through the cracks.”

The pipeline begins in the classroom, where black students are disproportionately affected. Nationally, black students in public schools are suspended or expelled at nearly three times the rate of white students, according to a Chicago Tribune analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.

The state with the worst disparity is New Jersey, where black students are almost 60 times as likely as white students to be expelled for serious infractions. Many other states also had striking gaps in discipline rates. In Alabama, a state where more than a third of all public school students are African American, black students are expelled five times as often as whites.

Once a black student is pushed into the juvenile justice system, the pipeline takes another tragic turn. The proportion of black youths within the system grows at each stage — from arrest through sentencing — until this group, which represents only 16 percent of the nation’s youth population, accounts for 58 percent of the youths admitted to state adult prisons.

“The vast majority of children caught up in the juvenile justice system have not committed violent crimes and do not deserve to be sent to prison,” Lospennato said. “And what most people don’t know is that thousands of non-violent kids get locked up for months even before their cases are heard.”

Students in special education are especially at risk of being pushed into the pipeline.

“Often these students are simply acting out of frustration because they can’t keep up with the others, and they’re not getting the help they need in class,” said Jim Comstock-Galagan, founder and executive director of the Southern Disability Law Center, which has partnered with the SPLC on the School-to-Prison Reform Project.

Poverty makes the situation worse, because a family may not have the resources needed to successfully demand the special school services that can prevent an outburst of misbehavior. It also means a detained child might find her fate in the hands of an overworked and underpaid public defender who has little or no training in the field of juvenile law.

Cohen noted the importance of basing the project in New Orleans, where Hurricane Katrina exposed the country’s racial and economic disparities.

“In opening the New Orleans office, we are sending a message, loud and clear, that the key to addressing these inequities is ensuring all children receive the education they deserve and are guaranteed under federal law,” Cohen said.

The project grew out of the SPLC’s legal work representing children with disabilities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

SPLC won key victories
The project has already won key victories for many school children in Mississippi and Louisiana. Settlements reached with school systems in Louisiana’s Jefferson, East Baton Rouge and Calcasieu parishes, for example, will ensure that quality special education services are provided to thousands of students. The settlements also have provisions that will enhance school experiences for all children, not just those with emotional or learning disabilities.As for Darius, the SPLC won his release from juvenile detention and helped him receive mental health treatment near his home and special education services at school. A program to help strengthen family relationships was part of the treatment.

“There are thousands of children like Darius whose lives can be saved if we reform this broken system,” Cohen said. “That’s what this project is all about.”

Editor’s note: Darius’ name has been changed to protect his identity.

 

Victoria Jaramillo, 40, holding her 3-month-old daughter, Frida, at Santa Martha Acatitla, a women’s prison in Mexico City. (Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times)

My mom is in prison and has been for more than years. I have thought a lot about what it would be like if she had never been arrested and how different my life would be if she was out and if she was still my guardian. (My life is WAY WAY better now! I wish she could be in a hospital or a drug rehab, but not here in my house.)

But until I read the article below, I never thought of what it would be like to be in prison with her. (I don’t even like going for an hour to visit.)  The kids in the article are a lot younger than I was when my mom was arrested, and the prison they’re talking about is in Mexico and not in the U.S., but still it has me thinking.

Behind prison bars, toddlers serve time with mom

By James C. Mckinley Jr. MEXICO CITY:
Beyond the high concrete walls and menacing guard towers of the Santa Martha Acatitla prison, past the barbed wire, past the iron gates, past the armed guards in black commando garb, sits a nursery school with brightly painted walls, piles of toys and a jungle gym.

Fifty-three children under the age of 6 live inside the prison with their mothers, who are serving sentences for crimes from drug dealing to kidnapping to homicide. Mothers dressed in prison blue, many with tattoos, carry babies on their hips around the exercise yard. Others lead toddlers and kindergartners by the hand, play with them in the dust or bounce them on their knees on prison benches.

On the one hand, maybe these moms learn to be better parents than my mother was, and maybe there’s less abuse when there are guards and other people around. Also, I am glad the children there have toys to play with and a nursery school. On the other hand, they don’t have any freedom. What an experience!

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In general, I have really strong opinions about things. But I am not sure how I feel about the reports of online bullying of kids. On the one hand, kids need to be protected from sexual abuse and all that kind of stuff. On the other hand, is the online world better or worse than the regular world?

Here is what CNN is saying:

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) — As many as one in three U.S. children have been ridiculed or threatened through computer messages, according to one estimate of the emerging problem of cyberbullying.

 

art.child.computer.jpg

 

The frequency and severity of online aggression experienced by young people is the topic of new research.

Another new study found the problem is less common, with one in 10 kids reporting online harassment.

But health experts said even the lower estimate signals a growing and concerning public health issue.

“I wouldn’t consider something that 10 percent of kids report as low,” said Janis Wolak, a University of New Hampshire researcher and co-author of the second study.

Wolak and other researchers, though, found that in many cases the incidents of online harassment were relatively mild.

What they don’t say is how young the “kids” are and how bad the harassment is. Are they being harassed by kids or adults? Did anyone teach them how to reply or don’t reply? I’ve had a few really pesky obnoxious boys send me way too many IM’s or weird messages, but I just blocked them on my IM and my email.

Compare that 10% to this:

The schoolyard continues to be a source of in-person bullying: Studies indicate roughly 17 percent of early adolescents say they are victims of recurring verbal aggression or physical harassment.

One adult sent me two pictures of sexy ladies with blood all over them, through my facebook page. That was creepy and I blocked him, reported him, and told other people to stay away from him. That was at 15. I probably would have been more freaked out at 12 or 13, but that’s probably why I wasn’t allowed to get a facebook account until high school.

Sometimes online bullying can be very serious, like the case of the thirteen year old who was deceived by an adult and fell in love with a non-existent cute boy.

Last week, officials in a Missouri town made Internet harassment a misdemeanor, after public outrage over the suicide of a 13-year-old resident last year.

The parents of Megan Meier claim their daughter, who had been treated for depression, committed suicide after a teenage boy who flirted with her on MySpace abruptly ended their friendship, telling her he heard she was cruel. The story gained national prominence this month when it was revealed the boy never existed — it was a prank allegedly started by a mother in the girl’s neighborhood.

This was a HORRIBLE story, but the biggest problem is that the “prank” was done by an adult. A really immature and mean adult!

I think that the difference, at least for me, is whether the person doing the harassing is a kid or an adult. I know how to answer back, ignore or even punch kids who are mean or who tease. Online, I have “ignore” buttons and know how to block emails. But it’s much harder for me to be rude to an adult. I think that’s true for most kids and teens. and it is probably the reason that kids can be victims to molesters.

(Big Brother STOP reading. The rest if this is private. )

When I first started wanting to surf the internet, my brother gave me a limited account and he checked the sites I went to, the people on my buddy list, and even said he had the right to read my emails. I don’t use my last name online and don’t use my real photo. I was not allowed to do facebook or myspace until 9th grade.

I became politically active online in 8th grade and met adults from all over the world. My brother got extremely involved in my buddy lists and my emails, and I resented it, but I also know he was protecting me.

I complain a lot that I live with Big Brother from 1984, but when I read news stories about kids who were so deceived that they killed themselves, I am glad that my brother protected me from a lot of the internet hate, and in a few years I’ll probably be glad that my google and yahoo searches are restricted.

I am terrible at writing conclusions to essays. I have nothing to conclude here. Maybe just this. Kids can usually work out kid stuff with other kids, but I think it is OK for adults to restrict kids on the internet since you never know if the person on the other end of your chat is another kid or an adult impersonating a kid. And …. nobody should bully. If you are bullying or being mean, it is time to see a counselor and learn to be nice to other people.

I guess that was two conclusions. Oh well.

I am a statistic:

Two-point-four million American children have a mother or father in jail or prision right now.

….

The children of prisioners suffer from anxiety and attention disorders, or from post-traumatic stress. They are likely to bounce from one care-giver to another;  

Fortunately, I don’t fit the statistics in other ways:

..to have and to cause trouble in school. Often poor to begin with, they get poorer once a parent is arrested.

These children are far from blind to their parents’ failings-they live with them every day , and they have more at stake than anyone in seeing their mothers and fathers rehabilitated, and living within the law. But in one way or another, most say the same thing: things were hard. Mom got arrested. Things got worse.

In my case, things got a lot better, but mostly because of things that had nothing to do with the crimes my mom went to jail for.   The reality is that my mom’s life would be much better if she were getting psych and drug abuse treatment rather than being in prison, and we would probably worry about her a lot less.

Politically, this is the part of that article that jumped out at me, but I don’t know enough about the issue know what the solution is:

“A successful corrections system doesn’t grow”, criminologist Stephen Richards has observed. “If they were correcting anybody, they’d shrink”. As our failing prison system continues to expand its reach, more and more of our children fall under its shadow, denied the light of parental attention they need in order to grow.

I may be a statistic, but none of these statistics means that I have to turn out a certain way.  There are a lot of my mom’s footsteps I don’t plan to follow.

I liked the movie Spy Kids when it first came out, and parts of the second movie were filmed near where I live. Never saw the third one. I know some middle school kids that want to be spies when they grow up, and Valerie Plame seems pretty cool. But ……

Should kids be spies NOW when they are kids? Here in America?

In the book 1984, the adults are afraid that their kids will rat them out, and some kids really did that in Germany during World War II. But it is NOT part of what the United States is about

The NSA has a website where they’re teaching kids how to spy. Learning codes seems fun and the brain teasers are cool, but the section called “How can I work for the NSA?” seems a little extreme for kids that like websites made of “crypto-cat” and other cartoon rabbits and puppies.

This case is just wrong. Kids should be able to choose their books at school and at the library. The parents and the administrators here are in the wrong. Let the kids read, especially if it’s a book that has won awards and can teach things and not just a book that is violent for no reason.

Teacher put on leave after book complaint

By ANGELA K. BROWN

TUSCOLA
— A popular English teacher has been placed on paid leave — and faces possible criminal charges — after a student’s parents complained to police that a ninth-grade class reading list contained a book about a murderer who has sex with his victims’ bodies.

Kaleb Tierce, 25, is being investigated for allegedly distributing harmful material to a minor after the student selected Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God off the list and read it.

Tierce, a third-year teacher and assistant football coach at Jim Ned High School, has not been arrested, but his case has caused an uproar in this West Texas town of 700 people. Last week, more than 120 parents and students crowded into a meeting where the school board voted to keep Tierce on paid leave.

Most parents say Tierce should be reinstated, regardless of whether the book is too graphic for teens.

“He’s a great teacher and coach and motivates the kids like no one else can,” said Chris Garcia, whose daughter was in one of Tierce’s classes. “If you’re trying to protect your kids from things in books, you may as well turn off the TV and video games. You try to protect them as much as you can, but these days kids are just exposed to so much.”

Tierce, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, declined to comment when
asked by The Associated Press about the allegations.

Some students and athletes have worn armbands to school and football games
emblazoned with Tierce’s initials, hiding them under clothing. Others said teens were meeting secretly to decide how to help the teacher they believe did nothing wrong.

“He was the only one who understood us,” said Patrisha Ramirez, 15. “He would joke around. He would make English interesting, for once.”

In Tuscola, south of Abilene, Child of God was on a list of titles compiled by all the high school English teachers for a pre-Advanced Placement class.

Although administrators’ approval was not required for the list, school officials have since removed the book because they deemed it inappropriate for ninth-graders.

The book tells the story of a town’s outsider who is falsely accused of rape, then begins killing people. The character ends up living in a cave with his victims’
decomposing bodies. The 1974 novel “plumbs the depths of human degradation,” according to its back cover.

The parents of one ninth-grade student filed a police report on Oct. 1 with the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office. Before contacting law enforcement officials, they complained to the teacher and principal, said district Superintendent Kent LeFevre, who declined to reveal their discussions.

The superintendent placed Tierce on administrative leave on Oct. 9.

Sheriff’s Sgt. John Cummins said the case will be turned over to the district attorney once the investigation is complete. Distributing harmful material to a minor is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Dear Mr. Friedberg,

When I was in middle school, I knew three girls who had babies before we graduated. One has had a second baby already. By the time we graduated in 8th grade, many of us were 14 and a few were already 15. Two of the kids I know turned 16 the summer after 8th grade. And a lot of people had been having oral sex. Some had been having intercourse.

Did you read this, which was also in the Huffington Post?

“One in eight youth are sexually experienced, having engaged in intercourse, oral sex or both before the age of 14,” the Journal of Adolescent Health reported in 2006. According to the Project Connect study, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

* “9 percent reported ever having sexual intercourse…and 8 percent ever had oral sex (active or receptive).”

* “Of those who reported intercourse, 36 percent were age 11 or younger at first sex, 27 percent were 12, 28 percent were 13, and 9 percent were 14 or older.”

* “Alarmingly, 43 percent of sexually experienced participants reported multiple sex partners.”

Here in Texas, most of our sex education at school is abstinence-only. They teach us about the existence of condoms and other birth control, but they don’t teach us how to use anything safely or where to get it. I don’t know how much birth control will make kids decide to have sex that didn’t have sex before, but I do know that it will make a lot of kids who are already having sex safer. And it will mean fewer abortions and fewer teen pregnancies and less AIDS and less STD’s. Which is more important?

—-Freckles

Malcolm Friedberg: Sex, Condoms in Schools

Eleven-year-olds shouldn’t be having sex.

A middle school in Maine is handing out condoms
. Middle school children are as young as 11 years old. Is it just me, or is 11 just a tad shy of an appropriate age for intercourse? I don’t think I had even made it to second base by then. In fact, I don’t even think most 11-year-old girls had a second base.

According to an op-ed in the New York Times Republicans in Congress are attempting to add $28M to the State Children’s Health Insurance bill that was vetoed by the president. The money goes specifically to teaching abstinence. The editorial states that studies show that abstinence doesn’t work, and abstinence programs teach false information.

Clearly, if kids are getting bad information, that issue needs to be addressed.

But the fundamental point remains: Isn’t handing out condoms encouraging 11-year-old kids to have sex?

In the Maine article, a supporter of the handing-out-condoms program states that society can’t rely on parents to protect their children. So, does that mean its now the State of Maine’s job to make decisions on the behalf of parents? And, even assuming Maine has the ability to make the “right” decision to protects kids (although I’m unsure how one could determine that), under what rationale is handing out condoms the best decision?

The government should not be the forum for imposing personal values, but aren’t there some lines we don’t want to cross?

Malcolm Friedberg is the author of Why We’ll Win, a set of books that explain the law behind hot-button social issues to laypeople.

I have heard a lot of liberal and progressive adults say that is is indecent and wrong to criticize 12-year-old boys. I disagree. There are a lot of reasons why you might criticize 12 year-old boys. Some of them don’t shower often enough and they have terrible table manners and their sense of humor can be really gross. In fact, GROSS is one of the nicest things you can say about them. But they are not cowards and nobody should criticize them for needing health care, for not being poor enough for medicaid, or for not saying their own opinions. Adults should not bully children.

Graeme Frost is a kid with a lot of courage and I hope he shows the Fox Noise creeps that he is not a tool for the democrats. (Graeme, brush your teeth, take a shower WITH soap, don’t eat spaghetti tomorrow, and you will be fine.) Watch Graeme on MSNBC Monday night.

Swiftboating 12 year old Graeme Frost; Frost on Countdown Monday

Graeme Frost two weeks ago gave the Democrat’s response to the President’s radio address. You will remember that his family is middle class, and he had public health insurance that saved his family from financial ruin after he and his sister were grievously injured in a car wreck, both needing physical therapy. But, the Neo-con attack dogs immediately and shamelessly Swiftboated him. I cannot say it better than Paul Krugman did in Sliming Graeme Frost in the NY Times. Countdown has video here.

On Monday evening, Master Frost will be on Countdown.

More… Yesterday, I had a flashback to the film (yes, before video) of the Army-McCarthy hearings with the now legendary Joseph Welch, the Army’s private counsel from Boston, taking on the bombastic Sen. Joseph McCarthy. I pondered that analogy over night. I don’t have to see the film again, because it is burned into my memory.

We have all seen that piece, as quoted on Wikipedia:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never gauged your cruelty or your recklessness[…]” When McCarthy resumed his attack, Welch interrupted him: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” He then left the room to loud applause from the spectators, and a recess was called.

The full transcript is on History Matters.

American Neo-cons are so invested in perpetuating frauds on the American people in the name of Republican-politics-as-usual that they cannot admit that one person with a contrary view might have a point. To quote one legendary Neo-con:

As soon as by one’s own propaganda even a glimpse of right on the other side is admitted, the cause for doubting one’s own right is laid.

(Hint: It is not Ronald Reagan.)

Now, they have stooped so low as to attack a 12 year old boy, too, and that is as utterly and gutterly low as they can get.

For those who would attack a 12 year old boy, “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Ah, but that’s the rub: For a Neo-con to have a “sense of decency” is an absolute contradiction.

Watch this 12 year old boy call out the Neo-cons tomorrow night on Countdown.

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