teens


Dear Readers,

I love my blog! I don’t spend enough time here, but this blog has been with me since 8th grade and has been a good friend. But now I am graduating and moving on to a new blog: Cassie at College.

Have you ever been to any kind of graduation ceremony where they didn’t explain that commencement is about new beginnings and not about closing things down? I think it’s a lie. Or a myth. Or wishful thinking. But I AM starting something new —- my college career.

With high school graduation, I am formally graduating from my first blog Political Teen Tidbits and moving on to my brand new grown-up college blog right over at Cassie At College!

The themes and colors there will change when I get a chance to play with all that, but I will always be me.  Still politically left, still writing about prison and drug reform, and adding in my feelings and experiences moving from the world of high school to the world of college.

Maybe in four years from now, Peanut Butter and Betsy will buy me the “Cassie at Law School” website or “Cassie in the Working World”.  Some day I might even buy my own site!  And of course, one of us needs to reserve PresidentCassie2032.com.

Please visit the new site and follow me on my journey to Princeton.

No, I’m not valedictorian or salutatorian and I don’t get to give a speech at my high school graduation, but I’m still reflecting and considering and getting scared.

When I was a little girl, Pocahontas was my favorite movie. As I approach my high school graduation, there is a part of me that isn’t ready to leave high school — a piece of my heart that wants everything to stay exactly the same. Last night, I was reminded of the old adage that everything always changes. Just as a river changes the lives and the plants it touches, so the river itself changes from moment to moment, and so do our lives.

The real Pocahontas was a young teenager when the English settled at Jamestown and her life and the life of our continent changed forever. The Disney movie places her closer to my age and her questions are similar to my own.

What I love most about rivers is:
You can’t step in the same river twice
The water’s always changing, always flowing
But people, I guess, can’t live like that
We all must pay a price
To be safe, we lose our chance of ever knowing
What’s around the riverbend
Waiting just around the riverbend

I look once more
Just around the riverbend
Beyond the shore
Somewhere past the sea
Don’t know what for…
Why do all my dreams extend
Just around the riverbend?
Just around the riverbend…

Lyrics here

Unlike Pocahontas, I know where I am going. I have no marriage proposals to consider, but I do have a scholarship to Princeton. My dreams await past the shore and into the sea. The river of high school has changed me, as have all the streams and rocks and reeds in my life.

In the past 18 years, my river has included rough and smooth waters and has taken some unexpected turns. I have a sense of what lies just beyond the river bend, and I’m gathering the courage to explore the rest of the twists and turns.

The United States has been at war in Afghanistan since the fall of my second grade year, and in Iraq for half of the years I have been in school. In all that time, and in all of the years that we watched Channel One News in the mornings, we never saw a casket, never heard about the war dead or the loss of limbs, and only heard about veterans one day a year.

That changed last Tuesday.

Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all been President of the United States during my schooling, and all three have addressed the nation’s students in the first weeks of school. Clips of these addresses were shown on Channel One, or the existence of the speeches was mentioned in news stories. There was never any controversy.

That changed this September.

This August, we were warned that the President was scheduled to speak to students across the nation, and the news media was full of dire predictions of this unprecedented address. We were originally asked to have our parents sign a form saying that we could listen to the fifteen minute national pep rally for paying attention and focusing on our studies, with the option of spending that time in another room. Then the speech was canceled except in U.S. government classes. Our infantile minds were apparently not prepared to absorb such concepts as hard work and setting goals.

image via Fort Hood Sentinel

image via Fort Hood Sentinel

And yet, we were apparently sufficiently mature to watch last week’s memorial service from Fort Hood. Without warning and without parental permission, this solemn service and the words of the President and several reverends were shown school-wide, in class.
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Dear Levi & Mercede,

I was sorry to hear about your mom’s arrest and plea for drug use and selling drugs.  I was even more sorry that it’s in the newspapers and on the blogs, and that people are making fun of her.

I am around your age (nearly 18) and my mom has been in jail for almost eight years on drug charges, so I know some of what you are going through.

I am also completely a busybody and am going to use this blog post to give both of you some advice.

  1. Go to Alateen.  Or ACOA.  Or someplace that’s NOT your church where you can learn about addicts and addiction how none of this is your fault and that you can’t cure your mom.  Also, Mercede, if there’s a support group in your town or in your HS for kids who have a parent in prison, GO!
  2. Mercede, I don’t know who you are living with these days, but my brother became my guardian when he was 18, and he was way too young.  And that’s without being a father himself or having reporters and photographers following him around.  I hope that you stay with a family, a whole, real family, at least until you finish HS.
  3. You will find out really soon who your real friends are and who thinks a lot less of you because your mom is in jail.  Sometimes even good friends can be insensitive, but at least they still like you for who YOU are.  Some kids are incredibly creepy and think it’s cool to know someone who knows someone in jail.  Stay away from them.  Same thing with overly curious adults.
  4. People will ask you what they can do to help.  It’s a dumb question, but if they ask twice, tell them to do something to improve life for prisoners and provide treatment for addicts.  You may even want to join organizations that encourage treatment instead of prison for addicts.
  5. Stand up for your mom. Make sure that the lawyers and guardians and corrections people all know that someone is watching and that someone cares. I don’t visit anymore, but I do have an adult in my life who communicates with my mom and with the prison.
  6. Because your mom is an addict like my mom, and because we watched our moms use drugs instead of facing problems head-on, all three of us can become an addict more easily than most people.  So learn what the signs are, and be careful, and watch out for each other.

We all need to work on making this country less inclined to incarcerate addicts and more inclined to help them find treatment.  And that starts with making sure that drug use is not a crime.  Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol and it’s not working for drugs.

I hope you do go to Alateen and counseling and get all the help you need to not have to ride your mother’s roller coaster addiction.  You didn’t cause it and you can’t cure it, but you can learn healthy ways to get through the next few years.

Your friend,

Cassie

President Obama got in a lot of trouble this week when the press took a still picture from a video and made it seem like he was looking at a 16 or 17 year old girl’s ass in a tight dress. A few comments on this.

  • That’s NOT what he was looking at. Watch the whole video.

US Magazine says this:

Pictures can be deceiving.

Yesterday, a photo surfaced of President Barack Obama seemingly checking out the backside of a 17-year-old junior delegate at the G-8 summit in Italy.

But new video tells a different story.

See Obama’s “Just Like Us” moments.

It appears Obama wasn’t sneaking a peak; instead, he was just helping another young delegate down the stairs.

But French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s intentions aren’t as clear.

The Head of State — who’s married to former model Carla Bruni — keeps his face drawn toward the 17-year-old.

  • I am a 17 year old girl and I know that if I wear sexy clothes and walk a certain way, MOST men will look at me. It’s the reason I wear short skirts some times and don’t wear them other days. So what if he DID look? Who cares? It’s not like she had an ID out that showed her age.
  • Girls and women have the power to dress the way we want to dress in the United States. And be who we want to be. We don’t all need image consultants, and we don’t all mind if men look at us when we walk past.

How cool is it to have a first lady who thinks that getting A’s is cool! After the Bushes telling acting like being stupid is the coolest, I really like Michelle Obama’s message. And her clothes! (But not the turquoise sweater.)


The reality is that I think we need more women role models who are famous for something that doesn’t involve their husband, but Michelle Obama is still the coolest ever!

This is from BBC:

The world needs strong young women to pave the way for the future, an emotional US First Lady Michelle Obama has told schoolgirls in London.

Mrs Obama was close to tears as she addressed the excited crowd at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington, north London.

She told them: “We are counting on every single one of you to be the best that you can be.”

Mrs Obama is in the UK with husband Barack for the G20 summit.

Her visit to the North London school was greeted with much excitement by pupils and she sat smiling, riveted, as Year 11 pupil Grace Hollowell and the school’s junior choir performed the Whitney Houston hit Believe.

Mrs Obama, a mother of two girls herself, smiled and watched intently throughout the other performances, which also included a modern-day staging of The Tempest, and a presentation on the school’s new Learning To Lead scheme.
‘Strength and dignity’

The First Lady high-fived one pupil after the performance before she took to the podium for her speech.

As she addressed the crowd, Mrs Obama choked up, saying: “Wow. I can’t follow that. Let me tell you, I am just very touched and moved by all of you.”

There isn’t a full transcript, but BBC describes it really well:

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about sex? And teen pregnancy? And what you are worth?

I’ve had different talks with different people, and virtually no information at all from school, but I really like the message in this article. It’s directed to moms and not kids, but that has never stopped me before.

As news of Bristol Palin’s breakup with fiancé Levi Johnston fans the flames of the never-ending debate about sex education, my thoughts keep turning to Sarah. I wonder if she wishes she could go back and do things differently. Would she offer something in addition to abstinence education? Will she change what she says to Willow and Piper?

As a mother, I think about what I will tell my young daughter about the millions of teenagers like Bristol Palin who get pregnant before they’re ready. What will I be able to say to prevent her from joining the statistics?

And when I start imagining “the talk” we’ll have, I realize that very little of it will actually have to do with sex. It will be more about the need for self confidence, an inner strength and the ability to say no to things she isn’t ready to do, to not want to please someone so badly that she’ll do something she knows is risky to earn or keep their love – whether that’s to have unsafe sex, to take drugs or to stay with someone who demeans or abuses her.

The author also talks about relationship violence and manipulation when she speculates:

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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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A friend sent this to me, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how it can be legal.  Or constitutional.

Internet Free Speech Ruling Favors Burlington School Administrators

In a key ruling on Internet free speech, a federal judge has found that school officials were within their rights when they disciplined a Burlington high school student over an insulting blog post she wrote off school grounds.

Avery Doninger’s case has drawn national attention and raised questions about how far schools’ power to regulate student speech extends in the Internet age.

But in a ruling on several motions for summary judgment Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz rejected Doninger’s claims that administrators at Lewis S. Mills High School violated her rights to free speech and equal protection and intentionally inflicted emotional distress when they barred her from serving as class secretary because of an Internet post she wrote at home.

Does he think they didn’t harm her? Or that the school didn’t violate her rights? Read on.

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Dear Governor Palin,

I understand that you want to be the VP of a party that thinks no one should ever be able have an abortion no matter what. And you don’t believe in teaching kids about sex and STD’s and birth control. AND your 17 year old daughter is pregnant, still in high school and not married. AND you don’t want us to talk about it because it is your family.

Well Mrs Governor, it doesn’t work that way.

You see, your policies and your republican platform are terrible! They don’t work! Here are some examples:

Abstinence-only sex ed defies common sense. Education policy spreads ignorance, sends confusing message to teens

“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.”

Kate Walsh: Abstinence-Only “Not Working.” Cites One-In-Four Teen Girl STDs Rate In U.S. As Proof Fed-Sponsored Sex Ed Needs Broadening

So we do get to talk about your policies. And we do get to talk about hypocrisy. You asked us to repect your family’s privacy, but you won’t respect my family’s privacy to make our own decisions!

“Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that, as parents, we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned,” said Palin, 44, and her husband. “We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents.” They asked the media to respect their child’s privacy.

How come she gets to make a decision but the rest of the girls and women in America don’t! You won’t even let me learn in school about all the decisions I might need to make!

Governor Palin, when I had my first boyfriend, my brother talked to me and to him about why we shouldn’t have sex. Actually, we had to sit down in my boyfriend’s living room with his parents and my brother and hear all about STD’s and love and all the reasons we were too young for sex. AND they told us about condoms and other ways of preventing pregnancy even though we promised to keep all hands above the waist until at least 16.

Did you have a talk like that with Bristol and her boyfriend? Did anyone show him how to use a condom? These are fair questions because of the policies you advocate for.

I am glad that Bristol decided to have her baby. Will she and her boyfriend raise it? Will they give it up for adoption? Who is going to pay for her to give birth? And for all the other doctor visits?

If you want your family life to stay private, the please don’t bring your family on stage with you when you campaign, and please stop being a hypocrite.

Sincerely,

Cassie

girl suspended for highlights in her hair

One of the very first posts I ever wrote for this blog was about dress codes. At the time, in Dress codes at school and at work, I asked people’s opinions about dress codes and was fairly comfortable with my school’s policy. I wrote about it again when a student (and her family) sued her school about Tigger and Winnie the Pooh socks.

Now I am glad that my school isn’t as restrictive as Desert Wind School in Socorro, TX. There, an 8th grader is missing prom and graduation because of highlights in her hair. Not purple highlights. Not 5 foot long extensions. Just highlights. And I think she looks pretty cute!

This is from a TV station in El Paso:

Desert Wind School student Denise Guerrero, 14, knew it was against school policy to highlight her hair and she also knew the consequences: if she didn’t remove the highlights, she would miss out on her prom, class field trip, graduation ceremony and soccer games.

“Because I couldn’t be with my friends. I missed out on a lot of things,” said Guerrero.As KFOX reported, Guerrero was assigned to in-school suspension or SAC a month before the end of the school year because she has blond highlights in her hair. She was also told she couldn’t participate in any school activities.Her parents filed a grievance with the Socorro Independent School District. They disagree with the school’s policy and they state other students and teachers color or highlight their hair at Desert Wind School.

But her family disagrees:

“According to their policy, highlights are a distraction. Why isn’t it a distraction by teachers, only by the students,” said Rafael Magallanes, Guerrero’s stepfather.

The principal responded to the grievance and echoed what district officials had told KFOX before. They say the dress code only applies to students and it is applied equally, fairly and thoroughly for all students.Just one week before the end of year activities at Desert Wind, Guerrero discovered the school would not amend the policy. She was told her hair had to go back to her natural color if she wanted to participate in school events. Guerrero said she stood her ground because she felt the policy is not fair. She knew she would be sacrificing events and memories she will never relive.”Soccer, my favorite sport, which I couldn’t get in because of a policy which couldn’t be changed, that’s what hurt me the most,” said Guerrero.Guerrero’s parents could have continued with the grievance process but this year was Denise’s last. Previous Stories:

Slideshow: Eighth Grader Suspended For Hair Color

But the point is, what’s too much restriction for a public school? Banning profanity is one thing. Banning blond is just stupid.  It could be worse.  She could have hair like THIS:

Laura sent me a link to this blog, and I think it’s amazing.

Days of My Life

Talk about daily life of a teenage girl in Iraq, and days of suffering and success. My nick name will be Sunshine.

The author is my age, but lives in Mosul in Iraq. She talks about school and friends and watching movies in class, but she also talks about the dangers of living in Iraq. Here’s some of what she says that I was really impressed with:

I admire M’s courage, she’s attending school everyday, doing her homework, attending exams and taking 100%, I’d say she’s a hero because she didn’t kill herself after her mom’s death, I can’t find a word to describe her courage, her determination, I don’t know how can she handle everything.. I was there for R, Rita and their families, and I’ll be there for M and help her in every possible way, all the girls in my class are with her, in the break-time, the girls and I explain to her the lessons she missed.

I think some of the stuff she writes sounds just like me.

One of the things that makes me really proud is my blog , you know that..
When I started 3 years ago I had no idea what’s going to happen, I remember the pleasure of receiving the first encouraging comment, and in the next day I got 9 E-mails I started to jump in the middle of the living room shouting “ I GOT 9 COMMENT OH I AM FAMOUS “

I don’t know anyone who has had this experience but I can still relate. I don’t care if it is war or child abuse or having drug addicts in your family, the only way any of us survive is if we have friends who can help us through. Some of what Sunshine writes is so horrible that I can’t relate at all. And I DO know what it is like to be afraid.

On Friday morning, my mom told me that dad was asking her to take care of the kids, and his parents, I went to my room, opened my book to study but I burst into tears, and cried for long time until I was unable to open my eyes, and my book page was completely wet. I throw the book away, and kept blaming myself and cry for not doing my best to fix my relationship with dad, I was telling myself, what have I done? If something bad happens to dad, I won’t forgive myself ever, part of me was ordering me to go to my dad, apologize and make sure he forgives me for every time I was adversarial to him, for every word I said and made him upset, for every night I slept without wishing him a good night, but I couldn’t, I was tight, I don’t know why..

I suffered from horrible headache and insomnia, I want my dad to see me publishing my first book, graduating from the best collage, being successful person in my life, and more important I want to be so nice to him and make him forget everything, every disparity we had, & every time we argued, I hope he’ll forget those memories.. and be proud of the girl he raised, although he tells me he’s proud but I want to make him even more prouder..

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Nope, this is not a post about Iraq, or even about King Georgie.  It’s about 8 kids my age who don’t have the sense God gave a turnip!  According to the L.A. Times,

Eight teenagers have been arrested on charges alleging they beat another teen in an “animalistic attack” so they could make a videotape to post on YouTube.

Seven of them remained in juvenile detention today, authorities said. A boy who was charged as an adult had been released on bail.

That’s right.  They weren’t angry at her.  She hadn’t stolen the boy they wanted to date or told a teacher they were cheating.  They just wanted to make a video!  So eight of them beat her up, then kidnapped her, then threatened her with a worse beating if she went to the police.

When my friend Hazel got a camera that shoots video (when we were 13), we made videos of each other singing stupid songs or pretending to kiss a boy we both liked.  We never even put it up on youtube!

The Times also says that

The sheriff’s office said that after the attack, three of the teens forced the victim into a vehicle and drove her to another location, where she was told she would be given a worse beating if she contacted police.

All eight suspects were arrested April 2 and charged with battery and false imprisonment. The three teens who took Lindsay to the second location are also charged with felony kidnapping.

Lindsay was treated for a concussion, damage to her left eye and left ear, and numerous bruises, police said.

Who ARE these people?  What is wrong with them?  Here is the video if you want to watch, but I wouldn’t bother.

Some teenagers are stupid! And some are just uninformed. They NEED to start giving us the real facts or kids will be killing themselves trying to stay healthy. I wrote about teen pregnancy and sex education previously here and here and here.

Nobody Could Have Predicted…

And on and on…

ORLANDO, Fla. — A recent survey that found some Florida teens believe drinking a cap of bleach will prevent HIV and a shot of Mountain Dew will stop pregnancy has prompted lawmakers to push for an overhaul of sex education in the state.The survey showed that Florida teens also believe that smoking marijuana will prevent a person from getting pregnant.

State lawmakers said the myths are spreading because of Florida’s abstinence-only sex education, Local 6 reported.

The kids I know have a lot of opinions about race, but I’d say that in my HS, only about 30% of the kids care at all about politics, and most of them don’t know a lot about the issues. Most opinions are no more complicated that “Dude, that ain’t right.” or “Well he’s a Christian so I agree with him.” But Feministing has this great video up about HS kids in NY talking about Barack Obama, politics and race. The video is kinda long, but really worth watching.

Sorry for the light posting during my vacation. Been having way too much fun to pay a lot of attention to politics. Good thing that people sometimes send me links like this one!

New Poll: 12 Year Olds Know Congress Could Cut War Money, Adults Believe Congress Powerless to End Iraq Occupation

By David SwansonA pair of new polls may suggest the power of falsehoods repeated ad infinitum on our televisions and in our newspapers. The first poll asked 2,000 American 12 year olds whether Congress has the power to end the occupation of Iraq. Minorities believed Congress did not, or believed it could do so if the Democrats had larger majorities. But a 61 percent majority of those polled believed that Congress could simply stop funding the occupation, and that the Democrats in Congress had sufficient majorities to accomplish this without any Republican assistance.

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