Headlines and top stories relating to children, youth and families around the world. Click links for full story at original sites

September 2001

 28 September 2001 

Canada: Children's advocate fires back at government
Children's Advocate Bob Rechner fired back Wednesday at government officials who questioned the validity of an incident in which a foster mother dunked a girl's head in a flushing toilet.
A day after a top bureaucrat suggested the shocking account may not be true, Rechner accused the province of casting doubt on the incident in an attempt to distract public attention from the failings of a foundering child-welfare system that is underfunded and running $40 million in the red.
"Unfortunately, the reaction from government to the identification of problems is to minimize, discredit, obfuscate," he told The Journal. "They don't want to hear it. I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised.
"The ministry, according to my information, is facing a $40-million deficit in this fiscal year and they are sharpening the knives to go out and trim expenses."

Gulf: Most teachers prefer other jobs – survey
Most public school teachers would prefer other jobs while some women teachers would rather stay at home to look after their families, according to a study conducted by a national teacher.
Sheikha Jum'a, Principal of Al Mualla Secondary School For Girls in Umm Al Quwain conducted the study on 500 teachers from all over the country. She surveyed teachers from all the educational zones in the country, both male and female, and from many nationalities.
She noted that 68 per cent of the teachers who were surveyed said that they would opt for another occupation if given the choice. Another 32 per cent said that they would work in the educational field, but not as teachers.
But some of the women surveyed admitted that they would feel much more comfortable staying at home being full time mothers and taking care of their families. Sheikha pointed out that they also stressed that this would be just as important as their roles as teachers.

Operator of privatized youth prison calls it quits
The private company that operates the youth prison where inmates took over a rooftop in June is pulling out of its contract -- two years before it expires. The state now must decide if it wants to run Summit View Youth Correctional Center, send the juveniles to other facilities or contract with another private company.
Summit View, which opened in June 2000 on Range Road north of Nellis Air Force Base, is the state's first secure youth prison and first privately run juvenile facility.
The state runs minimum-security youth training camps in Elko and Caliente and, before Summit View, sent its most violent offenders to youth prisons out of state.
Summit View holds the state's most serious and chronic offenders between 13 and 18 years old, although the state can continue to supervise them until they are 20.

Log book is key to acquittal
A former Youth Study Center counselor was found not guilty Tuesday of accepting a $3,000 bribe to help three inmates escape from the center.
In 1998 – two years after three Youth Study Center inmates used a fire door key to escape from the juvenile facility – District Attorney Lynne Abraham announced Postell's arrest for conspiracy, bribery, escape and hindering apprehension. Abraham accused Postell of slipping the key to inmate Danti Hunter, then 18, who, along with two others, ran down to the yard and scaled a wall to freedom.
Assistant District Attorney George Rayborn, who prosecuted Postell, said at the time that the two-year delay in nabbing Postell was the result of a continuing investigation. Apparently that investigation didn't go as deep as Spina's. During the weeklong trial, Spina revealed shocking evidence that had been overlooked by the prosecution: The juvenile facility's own log books contained an entry proving that, on the same night of the escape, another Youth Study Center employee – not Postell – had failed to turn in his key.
"It was a big bombshell," Pina said of that moment in the trial. "They missed it in their investigation. They never, ever looked at the log. There were thousands of pages. They didn't go through that."
After his arrest, Postell lost his counseling job at the Youth Study Center, Spina said.

Terrorism Crackdown Cuts Drug Flow
The Bush administration may have found a way to finally make some progress in the War on Drugs: declaring war on terrorism. The Seattle Times reported Sept. 22 that ever since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, U.S. Customs officials have been searching almost every vehicle and passenger coming over the Southwest border. As a result, drug seizures have dropped from about 20 shipments per day to about one or two per day.
Dea Boyd, a Customs spokesperson, said that drug traffickers "watch us very closely, so they know we are now on a very tough security footing. If I were a smuggler, I would not want to be trying to send anything illegal across the border right now."

Kids Say It's Easy to Get a Gun
Sacramento youths say they could get a gun within a day if they wanted to, and a majority said they would carry a gun if they needed to feel safe, the Sacramento Bee reported Sept. 26.
A survey of 371 youths in the county juvenile-justice system found that 54 percent said they could get a gun within 24 hours. Most said they would get their weapons from friends or illegal gun dealers; 17 percent said they would get a gun from home.
Officials hearing the results of the study called for more emphasis on youth gun prevention and education. The San Juan Unified School District already has a program that allows students to phone in information on weapons in school, and teaches a two-hour class on gun violence. Officials said they would like to see that program expanded to other area schools.

 27 September 2001 

Grim facts of Ulster's runaway kids
MORE than 2,000 schoolchildren in Northern Ireland run away from home every year, according to a shocking new report.
Ulster's first large-scale study on runaways, under the age of 16, found that a third of runaways sleep rough – a figure significantly higher than in the rest of the UK – and around one in 12 are sexually assaulted while away from home.
The Lost Youth report was carried out in Ulster schools by the charity Extern as part of a UK-wide study and is due to be officially launched at Stormont today.
The report examines many aspects of running away, including the young peoples' experiences away from home, and also the impact of paramilitary activities on young runaways.
Around 1,300 pupils from schools in Belfast, Carrickfergus and Strabane were surveyed.
The main reason given for running away was problems at home, mostly arguments and conflict, often aggravated by personal or school problems.
More than 25% of young runaways said they left home because of physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect.

Study shows high suicide rate among sexually abused children
A world-first study of sexually abused children has shown a startling rate of suicide.
The Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney followed a group of four to 15--year-olds over a 10-year period and found they had a suicide rate 10 to 13 times that of others their age.
Professor Kim Oates, who led the study, says the results show the importance of treating depression in young people, especially sexual abuse victims.
"There's a lot of risks for youth – suicide, unemployment, depression, homelessness, a whole lot of things are known to be risk factors and I guess what this is showing us this is yet another risk factor and these people need to be looked at and helped appropriately," she said.

Kids in the hall
A proposal to change how arrested kids are processed through the juvenile justice system is exposing how the city neglects troubled youth.
In 1997 San Francisco officials approved a landmark plan to overhaul the city's juvenile justice system and directed $5 million a year to the effort. Four years later the number of kids locked up at San Francisco's juvenile hall � named, euphemistically, the Youth Guidance Center � remains the same despite the reform efforts. And this is at a time when youth crime � both violent and nonviolent � is down. According to a recent report, the chances that an arrested youth will be detained have actually doubled over the past decade.
While juvenile justice advocates agree that things haven't improved, there's little consensus about how the city should proceed. And the Community Assessment and Referral Center, the linchpin of the 1997 reform plan, is at the center of the debate. CARC was set up so that city police officers don't have to take every kid they arrest to the infamously overcrowded YGC. Instead, minor offenders can go to the nonprofit CARC, where the focus is intervention. There kids receive individualized assessments and are referred to a variety of community-based programs, including those that provide housing, counseling, or tutoring. (Several of CARC's case managers told the Bay Guardian that the number-one request from kids who come in is a job.)
A new proposal to expand CARC is exposing political rifts within the juvenile justice community. Sup. Matt Gonzalez wants to make CARC the Juvenile Probation Department's only intake center � so that it would be the first stop for every kid who's arrested. But critics say putting what's now an alternative program under the department's control will dilute the program's effectiveness.
The proposal is also prompting renewed public debate about what city officials must do to reduce the juvenile hall population � namely, limiting in-school arrests and expanding social service programs.

 26 September 2001 

First Philippine Developmental and Behavioral Pediatric Convention
THE Philippine Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Inc. (PSDBP) is holding its first convention at the Manila Hotel on September 25-26, 2001, with the theme Developmental Pediatrics: Setting Directions. Among the speakers of the convention is Dr. Forrest C. Bennet, Director of the Center for Human Development of the University of Washington.
The field of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics is a new subspecialty field practiced by a select group of pediatricians. This field views the child holistically and in the context of the family, community, and society. Some of the developmental disabilities handled by the developmental pediatrician are autism, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, mental retardation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, development language and learning disorders, and sensory impairments.
The specific aims of the PSDBP are to establish and maintain standards of expertise, support and encourage research, provide comprehensive and competent care for developmentally challenged children and their families, establish linkages and networking with groups engaged in the care of these children, advocate programs, policies, and legislation, and promote camaraderie and cooperation among caregivers in the field.

Foster care privatizing gains steam
When a group of federal auditors recently asked Marjorie Murillo to describe the difference between being a foster parent with the state's child welfare agency and a private provider, Murillo did not mince her words. ``I can't tell you anything good about DCF,'' Murillo told interviewers before describing her frustrations with the Florida Department of Children & Families and its legion of overburdened social workers.
That's not the case with the CHARLEE program, the Miami-Dade-County-based private, nonprofit foster care agency with which Murillo and her husband, Roberto, are now foster parents. ``They do so much for the kids,'' said Murillo, who lives in Naranja. ``They don't care what time I call. They are there.''
For the past three years, advocates and state officials have been trying to figure out how to meet a legislative deadline requiring the department to hand over adoption, foster care, child-abuse counseling and other social services across the state to private community-based organizations by January 2003.

UK: Child protection agencies in staffing crisis
A survey warns that child protection services in England could be lacking over 2,000 social workers. Directors of social services say there are severe pressures in the industry due to problems in recruiting and retaining skilled and experienced staff.
According to the survey of social services departments by 78 authorities, there was a 14.7% vacancy rate of established social worker posts in July. This is equivalent to over 2,000 unfilled posts. The shortage of experienced managers is slightly less severe, with a little under 9% of posts vacant.
The figures have been revealed at a briefing session in advance of Lord Laming's inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Victoria Climbie in Tottenham, north London. The eight-year-old died of neglect in February last year while under the care of her aunt and her partner, despite the involvement of social services, police and the NHS.  Association of Directors of Social Services president Moira Gibb says the picture represented by the survey is "grim".

 25 September 2001 

Ontario: Children's lawyers threaten boycott
Ontario's most vulnerable citizens – abused or neglected children – have become pawns in a wage dispute between the province and the lawyers appointed to take care of them.  Fed up with a 14-year wage freeze, many lawyers working for Ontario's Office of the Children's Lawyer are refusing to take on any more young clients in child protection and some custody cases.
In Toronto, there are 62 lawyers specially appointed to handle these delicate cases – and their leader, Lorne Glass, said 58 of them will withdraw their services as of Oct. 1.  The lawyers have made $71 an hour for the past 14 years – a sum so low, they say, that many of them end up out of pocket because of office costs.
The Toronto lawyers say they'll follow through with cases they are already assigned to, said Glass, but they'll refuse to take on any new cases.
If Attorney-General David Young's ministry doesn't deal with this matter quickly, the job action could cause a backlog of hundreds of child protection cases throughout Ontario, he added.


UK: Abuse drama scoops Italian award
A BBC Wales drama inspired by real life tales of abuse in children's homes has added another award to its roll of honour. Made for BBC One, 'Care' claimed the Prix Italia 2001 in Bologna – its eleventh award this year.
The documentary-like film followed a young man's struggle to come to terms with institutional child abuse during his youth. It came in the wake of the Waterhouse report, Lost In Care, into child abuse in north Wales.
It uncovered "appalling mistreatment" of children and made over 70 recommendations including the subsequent creation of a children's commissioner for Wales.

US: The trend toward opening juvenile court is now gaining momentum
In a secret hearing three years ago, a Beaver County judge terminated the custody rights of a 19-year-old Allegheny County woman so that her baby could be adopted by a pharmacist and his wife, a lawyer who had shared a law office with the judge's wife.
The young mother objected to the secrecy. She wanted the whole world to know what had happened -- that her baby had been given away without her consent to a couple who refused to return him. Her attorney, Jean Lupariello of Carnegie, knew juvenile court hearings were closed in Pennsylvania, and she'd simply accepted it. But she began to question the practice.
"There is no reason to hide things under a shadow," Lupariello says now.
Lupariello is among those in Pennsylvania who wants to pry open the doors to juvenile courts. If they succeed, Pennsylvania would be in the forefront of a nationwide movement toward open juvenile court hearings.

 24 September 2001 

SA Child Headed Families Hit Hard By AIDS
The number of households headed by under-age children is growing at an alarming rate as their parents die from HIV-Aids, according to a recent study by the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF). Of the estimated 4,2 million HIV-infected people in the country, 250 000 die each year. About 420 000 children have already been orphaned.
The children not only lose parental care but also income and property rights, leaving them impoverished and unprotected. Many have dropped out of school because of poverty and lack of supervision. "They are being left outside the traditional society safety net. The extended family and community members appear largely unwilling to accommodate or feed an extra mouth. This is either because of a lack of resources or fear of stigma if the parents died of Aids," said NMCF project manager Mr Richard Mkholo.

Kigali Clears Streets of Hawkers, Street Children
Law enforcement agents have bolstered their efforts to rid Kigali's streets of hawkers and street children in a bid to improve security in the capital, the Rwanda News Agency reported last week. It quoted the Kigali City Council official responsible for social affairs, Antoine Semukanya, as saying the activities of hawkers and street children had become a cause of public concern. He denied complaints that the security forces had used violence in dealing with the problem. "We have had cases where defence forces have been beaten up by street children and hawkers," he said.
He said street vendors had refused offers to move into markets from which they could sell their wares. The city government was also taking the action, he added, so that it could collect taxes. Most traders, he said, evaded taxes by hawking their goods.

US: Reforms working at juvenile facilities, state report says
Maryland's long-troubled juvenile detention facilities are "cleaner, safer, more secure and more disciplined" as a result of two years of reforms, according to a progress report being drafted for legislators. The report, prepared by the Department of Juvenile Justice and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's office, also says the state has made important strides in providing community-based supervision and after-care programs – areas that were found to have been severely neglected in a 1999 investigation of problems at juvenile boot camps.
Leading advocates for children said some of the changes were real, but called the report an overstatement of the department's progress.
The report, which is undergoing revision to eliminate at least one erroneous claim, outlines a series of measures that department Secretary Bishop L. Robinson has taken to alleviate overcrowding and poor conditions in state juvenile facilities since the Glendening administration admitted a management breakdown in the department two years ago. That admission was made after an investigation by The Sun that found widespread abuses in state boot camps – revelations that led to the ouster of Robinson's predecessor.
The report spells out a series of steps the department intends to take over the next year to fundamentally change a system that child advocates have called cruel and ineffective.

Canada: Professional nurses' associations launch historic career awareness campaign
As another school year gets under way, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) and the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO) aim to steer more and more students toward a career in nursing.
Armed with a hip, fast-paced video targeted at young people contemplating their future careers, the associations launched an historic career awareness campaign today to promote nursing as a top career choice for students and to attract potential nurses to the profession. Given the average age of Ontario's nursing workforce -- 44 for RNs and 45 for RPNs -- the need to recruit future generations of nurses has never been so urgent.
"This campaign is designed to stimulate students' imagination, dispel misconceptions and stereotypes about nursing, and encourage an active search for more information about the profession," RNAO President Shirlee Sharkey said. "We have developed a dynamic, exciting campaign that positions nursing as a top career choice for the best and brightest students."

 21 September 2001 

Ireland: Free access to GPs for children mooted
Consideration should be given to providing free access to family doctors for all children in the State, the Department of Health's chief medical officer has said.
Dr Jim Kiely said the health of Irish children lagged behind that of children in other jurisdictions. The reasons included poverty, the most important social factor associated with illhealth in children. One Irish child in four children under 14 in Ireland is poor, he said.
To ensure financial reasons did not result in children being denied healthcare, he said, "free access to primary care for all children should be considered".
Dr Kiely made the proposal in his second annual report on The Health of Our Children published yesterday. He said there was an urgent need for a systematic review of primary care and hospital services for children.

SA Children Live In Fear
Children are traumatised by high levels of crime, domestic violence and the impact of death and suffering in their families due to HIV/Aids. The question to 850 children at a schools' drama festival in Johannesburg last week was: "How many of you have been present during an armed robbery?" Half raised their hands.
The homes of nearly all had been burgled, about a third knew someone who was HIV-positive, a family member in about 10% of homes had been raped, a third had a family member who had been murdered, about 15% had been present during a hijacking.
These 17-year olds, nearly all from wealthy private schools, are a fairly typical representation of how children in South African society are daily traumatised by violence. They are then further traumatised, Umesh Bawa, a psychologist at the University of the Western Cape says, by images of graphic violence conveyed by the media.
He says: "There is a very strong sense emanating from the media that this country is unsafe and people won't be protected. Children see traumatising pictures of accidents, deaths and pick up on the big sense of fear that pervades the psyche of adults."
In turn children become fearful and aggressive.

World's Parliaments Focus of the Condition of Children
The Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) has called on states to criminalise and penalise all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse of children, including within the family.
The call came on Saturday at the end of the IPU's 106th conference, held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, at which 1300 delegates from 141 parliaments, 39 of them in Africa, also called for the "immediate elimination of the worst forms of child labour". The parliamentarians also agreed to "promote education as a key strategy as well as to examine and devise economic policies, where necessary in cooperation with the international community, that address factors contributing to these forms of child labour".
The conference also called on states to take children's views into account in order to establish what is in their best interests when taking decisions that affect them. To that end, it asked governments to appoint special ombudsmen for children.
"UNICEF was really associated in the drafting of the resolutions. They are complete and comprehensive and, if implemented, will help change children's plight in the world," Rima Salah, UNICEF's representative for Western and Central Africa, told IRIN. "UNICEF is going to strengthen its collaboration with IPU in each country, each region and its headquarters in Geneva."

Ecstasy conference weighs cause of increased club drug use
Wisconsin law enforcement and health officials say they're struggling to keep up with trends involving club drugs, including the popular rave drug ecstasy.
In particular, the use of the drug is on the rise among affluent suburban youths, more and more of whom are winding up in emergency rooms after overdosing.
''It's here, and it's big time,'' said Kathy Sorenson, program director of Project HUGS in Madison, an organization that works with the families of children with drug and alcohol problems.
At a conference last Friday at Waukesha Memorial Hospital titled ''Raves, Ravers, and Club Drugs,'' more than 100 social workers, health care professionals, and school and law enforcement officials gathered to discuss the rave subculture and club drugs scene in Wisconsin.
''Education is the key here,'' said Madison police Detective George Chavez. He said networking among law enforcement agencies, schools, parent advocates, and the medical community is the best way to stay abreast of the evolving trends.
Tickets to get into raves can cost $25 to $75. Hits of ecstasy, the psychoactive stimulant and hallucinogen known as the ''hug drug'' for its ability to enhance sensitivity to touch, go for $20 to $25 each. Ketamine, a veterinary drug that produces an almost instantaneous high, sells for about $20.
Medical professionals say the popular practice of mixing several types of drugs in ''cocktails'' in order to achieve maximum, sustained highs presents a particular problem for doctors and nurses in emergency rooms who have to treat overdose victims quickly.
''It's backyard chemistry,'' said Michael J. Foley, a physician with St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center in Madison. ''And the result can be death.''
According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, emergency room visits nationally related to ecstasy rose from 1,143 in 1998 to 2,850 in 1999.

 20 September 2001 

New Zealand: CYF begins recruitment drive
Child, Youth and Family will this week begin a recruitment drive to fill 36 new positions it says will help improve the quality of care the department provides to at-risk children and young people.  The extra positions have been made possible as part of $2.2 million worth of new care-related funding for this financial year in Budget 2001.
Twelve new care specialist positions will be established, two in each of the department's six administrative regions across the country.
"The care specialists will have an important leadership role to play as they examine the opportunities to improve our systems and processes associated with care," says Bev Markham, national manager of residential and caregiver services. "These care specialists will support social workers in their care role."
The number of full-time equivalent caregiver liaison social worker positions around the country will be increased by 24 to 52.
"Caregiver liaison social workers recruit, train, and support caregivers who look after children and young people on Child, Youth and Family's behalf. The extra 24 positions mean better support for caregivers and, in particular, will enable us to offer better support to family and whanau members who are acting as caregivers," says Mrs Markham.

Welfare workers to get extra training at Pitt
The University of Pittsburgh has been hired to administer $20.5 million in training programs for child welfare workers across the state. The contract involves the university's School of Social Work and was announced at a campus news conference Monday.
It is the first time that practical training and formal education of those workers have been placed under one umbrella, said Robert Stefan, western region director of the state Department of Public Welfare's Office of Children, Youth and Families.
Much of the money will flow through Pitt to the training programs and those enrolled in them. But about 30 faculty, administrators and researchers are expected to be hired to support the effort across the state, said Edward Sites, a social work professor and director of the program.
Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said the money would help advance efforts to protect children from abuse and "cements our place as the home of one of the outstanding schools of social work."
The money will be aimed at five training areas, one existing and the others new.
A new program, Child Welfare Education for Baccalaureates, will provide social work degrees with child welfare content for undergraduates at 14 universities. The money will be used to recruit undergraduates to go into child welfare social work degree programs under an arrangement in which their tuition will be subsidized in return for their service as workers. Another training program will offer 10,000 days of training for the state's child welfare workers.

Ireland: Children also prone to suicide – Professor
A small number of children in Ireland are displaying suicidal behaviour although actual child suicide is still uncommon, according to Professor of Child Psychiatry at UCD Carol Fitzpatrick.
At the sixth annual Irish Association of Suicidology conference, in Cork, Prof Fitzpatrick said it was important to realise children were not immune to suicide: "Child suicide is still rare and has received relatively little attention, but the few studies that have been done show that they seem to have the same risk factors as older adolescents." In the past 10 years more than 40 children under 15 have died by suicide in Ireland.
A recent study by the Department of Child and Family Psychiatry in the Mater Hospital looked at 14 children, 13 of them boys, aged between six and 11, referred over a two-year period because of suicidal preoccupation or behaviour. Most came from families where parents had separated. Frequently, there was ongoing conflict over a child's access to the father.
Poverty and a family history of depression and suicidal behaviour were also common factors.

Australia: Youth forum to present concerns to Commonwealth leaders
More than 100 young people from Commonwealth nations are due to descend on Surfers Paradise at the end of the month to press home their concerns to Commonwealth leaders.  The nine day Commonwealth Youth Forum coincides with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Brisbane early next month.
While there will be 30 representatives from Australia, each Commonwealth country can send two people aged under 25 to the youth forum. CHOGM's Australian spokesman Andrew Reynolds says the forum will debate issues of concern to young people before highlighting them to the world leaders.
"They'll come out with a declaration from the youth forum which will be presented to the Commonwealth secretary-general and probably the chairman of the Commonwealth as well, who is our Prime Minister John Howard," he said. "It's a single declaration that will come out of the youth forum then that will be taken away and will probably impact on the next CHOGM meeting."

 19 September

City Doubles Funding for Gang Intervention
Citing an alarming level of gang violence in Los Angeles, Mayor James K. Hahn announced Monday additional funding that will nearly double the budget for seven gang-intervention programs across the city, from Pacoima to Watts.
The city will provide $1 million to the programs, which now receive $1.28 million to send intervention teams into the streets. The teams broker peace among rival gangs, work with individuals to address their anger and mentor troubled youth.
"We must never lose sight of how important it is to support our youth," Hahn said at a news conference at the Watts Civic Center, where he was joined by Council President Alex Padilla and Councilwoman Janice Hahn. The mayor cited Los Angeles Police Department figures that show 45% of the homicides this year have been gang-related.
Last week's terrorism on the East Coast, Hahn said, "illustrated the need to learn to talk through our grief, our frustration and our anger."

On Children: Questions and Answers  asked experts to offer answers to some of the questions kids are likely to have regarding the attacks on America. A comprehensive set of replies can be viewed here.

Keeping neighborhoods safe
When the HotSpot Program came to Columbia's Long Reach Village, the immediate impact was a plunge in crime.
But a recent crime surge shows that it takes more than slapping a police logo on a storefront window to keep crime in check.
The lull of a false sense of security in Long Reach ended this summer when 15 to 20 people chased a man from the Long Reach Village Center to a residential street and stabbed him. Since that attack, the community has been rocked by incidents of assault, burglaries and vandalism.
It will take continued vigilance by police, residents and businesses to restore safety.
Police have responded with more foot and bicycle control officers around the village center, but the police chief acknowledged that he can't afford to keep pouring that many resources into one community.
So it was encouraging to hear residents say recently that they were willing to step up – to help troubled youths and keep an eye out for trouble.

New Zealand: No homes so youngsters in motels
A troubled youth spent 106 days in a Palmerston North motel this year because Child, Youth and Family could not find him a new home. The total cost of the stay was $10,600. The case was revealed by Social Services Minister Steve Maharey yesterday in response to a parliamentary question from Act MP Muriel Newman.
A chronic shortage of caregivers in Palmerston North was revealed by the Herald last month, and foster family advocates said then that people were often scared off fostering because they thought they might be accused of abuse.
CYFS said a motel was a last resort for accommodation but figures released yesterday show that 17 youths have been put into motel care this year. Eight cases were in Palmerston North, and three of those were in motels for 50 days or more.
In the Auckland region, three youths were put into motels. One was in Otara for 12 days, and two in Waitakere for less than 2 days each.
Mr Maharey said the cost of the motel care was not higher than some forms of specialist care. Facilities with more beds were being built and the problem would diminish when they reached full capacity.
But Dr Newman said the cases were a symptom of a service in crisis. "We wouldn't normally keep a child who's got lots of problems cooped up in a motel for that length of time. It looks like it's ongoing. It's like putting them in a goldfish bowl."

Northern Ireland: Rival gangs clashing on nightly basis
Rival gangs of up to 40 youths have been involved in sectarian clashes almost every night this last week in the Waterside area of Londonderry, police said today.  The mobs have attacked each other and property in the vicinity of a building site at the new Shepherd's Glen housing development.
Police are concerned about frightened elderly residents of Knockdara Park and Irish Street – housing estates located on either side of Shepherd's Glen.
Several windows in the nearby Chapel Road Primary School were broken some time during last weekend and that act of vandalism has been linked to the ongoing disturbances.
A police spokesman urged parents in the Waterside to exercise control over their children and he called on community leaders to exert whatever influence they have over the youths.
"We will do what we can but I would ask for parental control of the teenagers who are involved in this totally unacceptable behaviour.

 18 September 2001 

UK: Children 'at risk over lack of funds'
Social services chiefs warned the government yesterday that thousands of vulnerable children are at risk because child protection teams lack the resources to cope with a heavier workload.
Moira Gibb, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said that children may die unless ministers give more priority to funding.
Last year the number of care orders to protect children suffering abuse or neglect increased by 50% to 6,298. "Core social services funding has not kept pace with demand. We are struggling. That means children and families who need help don't always get it," Ms Gibb said.
The increase in referrals is partly due to a greater willingness to report problems.
Local authorities are bracing themselves for criticism of social services departments when a public inquiry opens on September 26 into the killing of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie. The girl's aunt Marie-Therese Kouao and her boyfriend, Carl Manning, were jailed for life earlier this year for torturing and murdering her after signs of abuse were not picked up by social workers, hospitals or police.

Philippines: National Family Week
National Family Week, which is being observed this week, provides an opportunity for some reflection on the Filipino family as a social institution. The family is under heavy stress due to today's rapid social changes. Economic pressures, the erosion of values, and the continuous migration of people from rural to urban settings are all taking their toll on Filipino families.
Urban migration has created congested urban areas lacking adequate housing and infrastructure to meet the basic needs of families. In the large cities, the social "glue'' of the tightly knit rural communities is lacking; thus it is more difficult to maintain Filipino family values. Clearly, Filipino families are challenged by these social conditions.
Other social factors also strain the Filipino family. For example, the national government encourages overseas employment to absorb the excess Filipino professionals and skilled laborers. But overseas employment separates spouses and parents and children. It places emotional strains on the children and tests the endurance of marital fidelity.
National Family Week aims to strengthen the family and to boost values that promote the welfare of children by means of educational programs and media events designed to increase public awareness. This week's observance, it is hoped, will help strengthen family values and meet the needs of today's Filipino families. The future of this nation lies to a great extent in Filipino families. Strengthening the Filipino family is thus a matter of public interest.
This week is an opportune time to renew the commitment of the government, schools, churches, and the media to promote those values and programs that strengthen the family.

Florida Pledges Better Child and Youth Care
A judge is expected to give final approval to a settlement of an 11-year-old class action lawsuit accusing the state of providing inadequate mental health services for foster children and juvenile offenders.
Children's advocates had sued the state, saying it wasn't devoting the money or resources necessary to address children's needs.
The settlement, which covers at least 45,000 children, gives officials at Florida's Department of Children and Families, Department of Juvenile Justice and the Agency for Health Care Administration 21 months to make improvements.
U.S District Judge K. Michael Moore gave preliminary approval to the settlement in June. A hearing was held Monday to determine if there was any opposition to the plan, but none emerged.

Australia: Students' jobs impede studies, survey shows
University students spend so much time at part-time jobs that their studies suffer, a survey of 30,000 undergraduates has found.
Almost half the students surveyed said they missed classes last year because of part-time work. Fifty-eight per cent said work had impeded their studies.
The survey, by the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, also revealed that a growing number of full-time students have part-time jobs.
Last year seven in 10 university students said they worked during the semester. In 1984 fewer than half full-time students worked part-time.
The president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, Professor Ian Chubb, said the report into student finances, called Paying their Way, raised serious concerns about Australia's "capacity to achieve optimum outcomes in education and skills development".

 17 September 2001 

Programs for Troubled Youths are Plentiful, Costly
Schools, programs, and consultants that help troubled youths have increased in the past 10 years, becoming a multi-billion-dollar industry, the New York Times reported Sept. 10.
The boom, experts say, is a result of parental desperation. Unable or unwilling to control troubled teenagers, parents are seeking outside help, regardless of the cost. Among the options currently available -- some costing up to $80,000 -- are therapeutic boarding schools, emotional-growth schools, residential treatment schools, and rural farms and desert boot camps that impose strict military or religious discipline. Many of the programs focus on a specific problem, such as addiction or violence.
According to the Independent Educational Consultants Association, there are 250 specialized schools and programs for troubled youth that it considers reputable. But there are hundreds of others, with new ones opening at a rate of three a month. A decade ago, there were just 24 such schools and programs.
"It used to be that if your kid was acting out, you told him, 'Pack your bags, you're going to live with your Aunt Betty in California,' " said Dan Kindlon, a Harvard child-psychology professor and co-author of "Raising Cain" (Ballantine Books, 1999), a book about modern boys. "We look now to institutions to do this stuff."
James Garbarino, director of the Family Life Development Center at Cornell University, said the growth in the industry is a sign of the changes in society that make raising children harder than ever. In addition, the risks for teenagers are greater than ever.
"Parents 40 years ago didn't have to have the expertise to monitor the Internet," said Garbarino, who is also the author of "Parents Under Siege." "You didn't have to monitor TV watching. You could be a sloppier parent years ago. Today a parent has to have a vigilance, an awareness, and to some degree more luck."
Other experts, as well as parents, note that the programs and schools for troubled youth indicate the failures of a generation of permissive, preoccupied parents.
Susan Stevens of West Bloomfield, Mich., said she turned to a therapeutic school for her son after exhausting all other alternatives, including doctors, therapists, clergy members and guidance counselors.
"I don't think there's one of us who has a kid in a program who doesn't feel like we've failed," said Stevens. "We're the boomers. We read all the books. We were supposed to raise the perfect kids."

Mission always evolving at nonprofit agency
High-risk children, adults and entire families continue to benefit from one of the area's oldest human service agencies.
Child & Family Services, whose roots go back 128 years, is all about making lives better through prevention, intervention and education.
"The challenge is ongoing," said Eugene Meeks, president and CEO of the nonprofit agency. "Our mission is strengthening families and promoting a safe environment for children. And that is daunting. It's a need, an issue, that never goes away. Although we show positive outcomes and accomplishments, there's always something to do"
A long-standing commitment to the community began in the early 1870s with the agency's predecessor, Buffalo City Children's Aid Society for homeless children. Thus began a history of caring that continues today through a portfolio of more than two dozen behavioral health programs.
"We are one of the largest private family-service agencies in the nation," Meeks said. "We are one of the most diverse and complex in that we serve so many segments of the population. It's a broad array of programs for children, adults, victims of domestic abuse, the corporate sector. The overall focus is on strengthening families and promoting the welfare of children."

Teacher sues pupils over assault claims
A former Celtic football player turned teacher is suing two ex-pupils who accused him of assault.
In a �50,000 defamation case, Aiden McKellar claims the boys acted with the deliberate intention of causing him harm by alleging that he had attacked one of them.
Mr McKellar, a music teacher at St Joseph�s College, Dumfries, was suspended following the allegations, but was subsequently reinstated by Dumfries and Galloway�s Council�s education committee.
He then faced a second hearing in front of the disciplinary committee of the General Teaching Council and was cleared a second time.
Last night, Mr McKellar, 52, insisted he had not attacked the boys, claiming he had removed them from a classroom and warned them for singing and swearing loudly.
He said: "I raised this action to clear my name – I have suffered a lot of taunts because of this affair. After the education committee rejected the recommendation to dismiss me, nothing was done.
"I did not get an apology and the boys were not punished in any way for their false allegations against me. I would not have gone to court if the matter had ended after the education committee meeting. But it did not.

 13 September 2001 

Mediation for teens wins a favorable verdict
Mediation has been so successful in the south and southwest suburbs as an alternative to Juvenile Court that the program is expanding to the rest of suburban Cook County, quietly and fundamentally changing the way that justice is meted out to many area teens.
"This is no longer a pilot project," said Cathy Ryan, chief of the juvenile justice bureau for the Cook County state's attorney's office. "We've broadened the use of these programs until they really have become the infrastructure of our juvenile justice system."
Prosecutors say diverting cases out of Juvenile Court and into the Neighborhood Restorative Justice Mediation Program holds youths accountable for their crimes, helps them see the consequences of their actions, and encourages them to stay out of trouble in the future.
It also frees up judicial resources to address more serious crime, Ryan said, and gives victims a voice in the process.


Project to fight crime sociably : Conference program to introduce youths to victims, not courts; 'A good prevention tool'
Carroll will become the first Maryland county to institute a community program aimed at keeping troubled youth out of the juvenile justice system by having them participate in a conference with their victims to resolve problems amicably.
Diane McCoy, prevention coordinator at Junction Inc., a substance abuse treatment program, said more than 80 percent of the county's Department of Juvenile Justice cases could qualify for the community conferencing initiative, which she detailed for the county commissioners and area mayors last week.
She gave the officials an example of how the program might work:
A man who raises pigeons faces constant harassment from youths, who eventually destroy his coops and hurt some of the birds. Instead of filing charges, the man opts for a community conference, led by a trained volunteer. Working together, the group hammers out an agreement in a timely manner. The children agree to rebuild the coops and help care for the injured birds. The owner gives them lessons on raising pigeons, a project that also involves the parents.


Zero-tolerance policies provide zero benefit
Zero-tolerance policies are not improving schools, and they are definitely harming students. Everyone loses under these policies that mandate expulsion from school for an ever-broadening array of offenses from the serious to the trivial. What really doesn't compute is that alternative policies do exist.
As an article in The Chronicle ("Many schools of discipline," Aug. 26), explained, 20,000 students are expelled each year in California under zero- tolerance policies. Many of these students spend months or years with vastly inadequate educational alternatives. Alternatives vary from district to district and could involve sending these students to schools run by the county, or evening school, or even one-hour schoolwork-supervision sessions in lieu of regular school. Often, students do not have any alternative at all (in spite of legislation requiring it) as they wait for hearings and appeals that can go on for months.
These students are also much more likely to give up on school and drop out.
Zero-tolerance policies are one way in which too many California schools have developed a "prison track," a series of practices that channel students into the juvenile justice system. The climate that created zero-tolerance policies has also expanded the prison track by increasingly placing police officers on campus or calling them to campus for minor incidents, such as neglecting to remove toenail clippers from one's purse before going to school – – incidents that would not previously have been perceived as warranting police involvement.


  12 September 2001 

New Zealand: Stress-free parents on wishlist for kids
Children are often painfully aware of the stresses in their parents' lives, a study of more than 3500 New Zealand children has found.
Like children in working families overseas, children wanted more stress-free time with parents, not more time, says Youth Affairs Minister Laila Harre.
Unveiling findings of a nationwide consultation for developing an Agenda for Children, Ms Harre said children were not concerned "with having parents who worked; just parents who worked too much".
They were aware of what was going on in their parents' lives and its impact on the family.
"Children I spoke to said they really wished either mum or dad could take a day off to spend with them when they were sick. But they understood the financial pressure taking a day off work created."
They understood that their parents' work and the pay cheque "made for a happier mum and dad and a happier home life".

Study Explores Sexual Exploitation
Children who engage in prostitution and the making of pornography are likely to be white, middle-class and familiar with the person who got them involved, according to a study released Monday.
These young people often were abused at home and fled to the streets, where they exchanged sex for money, food and shelter, said the report. It was issued by the University of Pennsylvania and the National Association of Social Workers.
About 326,000 children in the United States are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, the report estimated.
"It's an epidemic that has been off the radar screen and mostly hidden," said Richard J. Estes, a social work professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the study's main author.
Equal numbers of boys and girls are involved, but the activities of boys generally receive less attention.
Most people who have sex with children are men, 25 percent of whom are married and have children.


Department of Corrections plans to cut 90 employees
Decline in population at juvenile institutions led to drop in state funding, spokesman says
A drop in youths incarcerated in state facilities has prompted the Department of Corrections to cut 90 employees.
Those targeted include teachers, social workers, youth counselors, chaplains and maintenance workers. They were notified of the dismissals on Friday, department spokesman Bill Clausius said.
All the cuts will be effective Oct. 5, said Clausius, to whom division deputy administrator Silvia Jackson referred questions.
The 90 employees represent about 7.6% of the division employees, who have an average salary of $34,940, Clausius said.
The staff cuts will occur at Ethan Allen School in the Town of Delafield, Lincoln Hills School in Irma and Southern Oaks Girls School in Union Grove, which are juvenile correctional institutions; and at the Youth Leadership Training Center in Camp Douglas, a community supervision program.
Of the 90 employees, 37 are from Ethan Allen, 30 are from Lincoln Hills, 15 are from the training center and eight are from Southern Oaks.
The cuts became necessary because of a decline in the juvenile population, mirroring a national trend, Clausius said.

 11 September 2001 

Teens turning more to club drugs, studies say
Fewer Chicago and suburban teens are smoking pot, taking LSD trips or huffing inhalants, but more young people are snorting powdered heroin and doing "club drugs'' such as Ecstasy, recent research shows.
From 1998 through 2000, teen drug use declined in Chicago and suburban Cook County in almost every category except club drugs and heroin, according to an Illinois Department of Human Services survey of 6,387 students. Cocaine use remained steady, but the big change was in the use of what the survey categorized as "other drugs," including "uppers," "downers," heroin and club drugs.
The increase in that category "probably indicates the greatly increased popularity of MDMA [Ecstasy]," according to the study, which was prepared by Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington.
According to Hazelden-Chicago, a nonprofit substance-abuse treatment center, half of the adolescents undergoing treatment there report using Ecstasy in combination with alcohol, according to Peter Palanca, president of the organization. He said heroin, however, also has surged in popularity among teens because of its availability in a purer powder form that can be sniffed or smoked like cocaine, rather than injected with a needle.
"Kids are definitely using heroin [through snorting it] and Ecstasy more so than they have in the past," Palanca said.

Honduras: Police, vigilantes and gangs blamed for 900 youths' deaths since 1998
Juan Ram�n Antu�ez was 16 and liked rap music. At 11:30 on a Friday night in July, he and two buddies were hanging out in the parking lot of a fast-food joint, playing music and rehearsing rhymes. According to two of his pals, the jam session ended abruptly when an officer from the Honduran Preventive Police came by with an ominous warning: If I count to three and you're still here, I'll put a bullet in your head.
One. Juan went running, turning the corner as fast as he could.
Two. The frightening sound of gunfire.
Three. Juan was dead.
"Here in Honduras, we sort of have the death penalty � except it's done by the police," said Juan's brother-in-law, who asked that his name be withheld.
Juan, an honors student at a private vocational school, joins a daunting and growing list: the nearly 900 Honduran youths found dead in the street since 1998 � cases rarely solved and only scantily investigated.
According to Covenant House Latin America, the New York church-based runaway shelter, 247 men younger than 23 were killed in the first six months of this year. Before then, 221 died last year and 286 the year before.
A Covenant House study linked only 7 percent of the killings directly to police, and 13 percent to gangs. The majority, 60 percent, are mysteries.
"The police will tell you this is a gang war," said Covenant House regional director Bruce Harris. "It's not."

Quebec dares Ottawa to impose youth-crime law
Provincial Justice Minister Paul B�gin is daring Ottawa to implement its new Youth Criminal Justice Act, which he maintains is illegal. Quebec will begin its legal assault against the bill with a rarely used tactic: a referral asking the Quebec Court of Appeal to rule whether or not it would be constitutional, and whether or not it contravenes international treaties that Canada has signed.
The last time Quebec asked the appeal court's opinion in this way was 12 years ago. Alberta used a similar tactic in 1998 against the federal gun registry. That challenge failed.
B�gin yesterday challenged Ottawa to give final approval – third reading and royal assent – to the contentious bill before the court rules on its legality. "I leave to them the audaciousness to do it. I can't imagine that the government of Canada would do such a thing."
Quebec argues the proposed law, championed by federal Justice Minister Anne McLellan, flies in the face of international treaties, specifically the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Law letting parents, teachers spank kids unjust, lawyer tells Ontario court
Parents' legal right to slap, hit or spank their children should be removed because it unfairly treats children as "second-class" citizens, a lawyer representing childrens' rights advocates told an Ontario Court of Appeal hearing Monday.
The Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law wants the court to abolish Canada's contentious spanking law, specifically Section 43 of the Criminal Code which grants parents, teachers and guardians permission to physically discipline children in the name of correcting behaviour.
The challenge was launched following a decision July 2000 by Justice David McCombs to uphold the century-old law because parents and teachers need some latitude in carrying out their duty as caregivers.
The foundation is supported by the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies, an intervener in the case.
"Hitting children is not caring for them," lawyer Paul Schabas told the three-judge appeal panel Monday.

Parents of Troubled Youths Seek Help at Any Cost
A multibillion-dollar industry has surged to satisfy a booming market in parental desperation.
Two parents, who are divorced, were cataloging their fears and frustrations over their 14-year-old son. He had a learning disability and a hyperactivity disorder. He was failing in school. He was depressed, given to fits of rage, and seemed to have no idea how to make friends.
The parents were thinking of sending him to one of the specialized boarding schools or wilderness therapy programs they had heard about, which promise to rescue out-of-control teenagers through rigid structure, intensive counseling, peer support and strenuous outdoor activities. These schools and programs and consultants like Ms. Price, who help parents find the right ones are part of a multibillion- dollar industry that has surged in the last 10 years to satisfy what many say is a booming market in parental desperation.
Parents who are unable or unwilling to handle troubled teenagers on their own now have more avenues of outside help than ever. Their options include therapeutic boarding schools, "emotional growth" schools and residential treatment schools. There are rural farms and desert boot camps, many imposing strict military or religious discipline. Some programs promise help for specific problems, like anorexia, depression, drug abuse or anger over a divorce. Some are as well established as a prep school, others as small and informal as a teacher's home.
Their quality varies widely. Many have excellent reputations, while experts say a few are outright frauds. Many are simply ineffectual. A small minority have come under law enforcement scrutiny, including a program in Samoa that was closed after reports of sexual and physical abuse, and a desert boot camp in Arizona where a 14-year-old boy died in July. What these programs have in common is cost: usually thousands of dollars a month.

Calgary: School boards plan to abstain from sex poll
Calgary's public and Catholic schools are refusing to take part in a national survey of students' sex habits because of what school board officials call the "sensitive" nature of the questions.
"When children are entrusted to us, we have to be very careful to screen what they're exposed to," said Brendan Croskery, the Calgary Board of Education's acting chief superintendent.
"Our overall view is the questions on this survey are somewhat invasive, very personal and sensitive."
Croskery and Linda Blasetti, chairwoman of the Calgary Catholic School District, confirmed their respective school districts have both rejected a request for students to take part in the Canadian Youth Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Study this fall.
Although neither official has seen the survey, Croskery said the questions that ask children as young as 12 about their previous sexual experiences didn't meet the CBE's policy for acceptable material for students.

New York's Nicholas Scoppetta thanked
Nicholas Scoppetta's announcement that he intends to step down as head of the city Administration of Children's Services at the end of the year is a real disappointment. In an administration chock-full of major successes, few can rival Nick Scoppetta's turnaround of the city's child-welfare services.
Drafted by Mayor Giuliani in 1996 in the wake of the Eliza Izquierdo scandal – in which a 6-year-old was murdered by her crack-addicted mother after the city reunited the two despite strong evidence of abuse – the former prosecutor remade the agency from top to bottom.
The incompetently run Child Welfare Administration gave way to ACS, an independent agency created by mayoral order and operating outside the scope of the Human Resources Administration bureaucracy.
Scoppetta brought real accountability to child-welfare services. He reduced the population of children in foster care and made real reforms in the way the city investigates and handles allegations of child abuse. Ultimately, no government authority can prevent a parent who's intent on murdering his or her child from doing so. But Scoppetta got rid of CWA's legions of incompetent caseworkers and instituted major retraining programs. On his watch, the headlines have not been filled with one Eliza Izquierdo tragedy after another.
It's no wonder that an independent panel that appraised ACS last December hailed Scoppetta's turnaround of the agency as "remarkable." All this in the face of ongoing litigation by self-styled "children's advocates" who have tried repeatedly to hamper his efforts through misguided lawsuits.
New York owes Nick Scoppetta a profound thank you for a job well done. But far better for all endangered children if he can be persuaded to remain on the job.

 10 September 2001 

Australia Government's $80m study to divert youth from courts
The Federal Government has commissioned an $80 million study into strategies to divert young offenders from the court system. The study will explore methods being used in every state and territory to come up with a national approach to juvenile crime.
Speaking at a crime prevention forum in the Western Australian goldfields, the Minister for Justice, Senator Chris Ellison, said the project will focus on regional areas. He says the study will involve community, state and federal agencies.
"Regional Australia has different requirements," Senator Ellison said. "They have different needs and of course you've got to remember that if you've got young people at risk in regional Australia, do they have access to the sort of assistance that they're city cousins have?"

We Recover Together: CWLA Observes 2001 National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month
Substance abuse is a factor in the majority of child abuse and neglect cases, according to a new publication by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) entitled Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Child Welfare. As part of its observance of September as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, CWLA is distributing this booklet to opinion-shapers and policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels. The goal is to educate agency administrators, media figures, elected officials and the general public about this widespread but treatable public health problem and to celebrate those in recovery.
According to CWLA Executive Director Shay Bilchik, "an alarming number of families in the child welfare system suffer from the chronic disease of addiction. Evidence from various studies suggests that 40% to 80% of the families involved in the child welfare system nationwide struggle with this issue." Despite this known linkage, a study released by CWLA in 1998 of state child welfare agencies found that many cannot adequately address substance abuse in child welfare cases.
"To break the link between child abuse and substance abuse, parents need help from supportive systems and resources," says Bilchik. "Solving the addiction problem in America is all about investing in children." A 1999 Gallup poll found that 81% of Americans agreed that "tax dollars should be spent on lowering drug use."
Download booklet:

Seeing foster children into adulthood
When foster children turn 18, they are no longer wards of the state, and the legal relationship between the child and the foster parents no longer exists. Many foster parents continue the relationship with their former foster child as if they were the child�s biological parent. However, most foster youth are on their own. They must find housing and a means of support. According to national statistics, when children leave the foster care system, 50% have not completed high school. Twelve to 18 months later, half are unemployed, one-third are on public assistance, one-quarter have been or are homeless, and almost one third of the males have been incarcerated.
Read Foster Care and the Transition to Adulthood: Independent Living Skills Program at:

Date Violence, Rape Experienced by 9% of Girls, 6% of Boys
In a survey of 81,247 Minnesota public school students in the 9th and 12th grades, 9% of girls and 6% of boys reported experiencing date violence and/or rape. The findings were released on Sunday at the American Psychological Association's 109th Annual Convention in San Francisco, California.
The study conducted by Diann M. Ackard, PhD, LP, a psychologist in private practice in Minneapolis, and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD, from the University of Minnesota, also revealed that adolescents of all genders and racial backgrounds who sustained this treatment were far more likely to have low self-esteem, engage in disordered eating, and to attempt suicide.
In approximately half of the cases, respondents of both sexes reporting date rape and violence also experienced physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by adults.

 7 September 2001 

Many kids in foster care don't see doctor
Almost half of the state's foster children never visited a doctor and only one in four saw a dentist in the last year.
In recent months, administrators with the Florida Department of Children & Families have insisted their goal is to be ``good parents'' to the 20,235 children entrusted to their care -- children who have experienced abuse and neglect. But department officials often have failed to provide the most basic medical and dental care to children in state custody.
In fiscal 2000-01, which ended in July, Florida's Medicaid program spent $2.3 million for doctor visits for 10,533 foster children. That's about $115 for each child in state care, according to records obtained by The Herald. During the same period, the state spent close to $6 million for prescription drugs -- the bulk of which were used to treat emotional or mental disturbances.
``That's very sad,'' said Dr. Moira Szilagyi, a national expert who directs the medical care of foster children in Monroe County, N.Y., which includes Rochester.
During the same period, only 5,103 of the state's foster kids went to a dentist, according to records from the state Agency for Health Care Administration, which pays the state's bills under Medicaid, a state and federal healthcare program for the needy. All foster children receive most, if not all, medical care through Medicaid.
``If you look at the national numbers, children in foster care have a higher rate of chronic illness, a higher rate of developmental and educational disabilities, and higher rates for mental illness and behavioral disorders,'' said Szilagyi, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester.

Northern Ireland: 'Commissioner for children' plan welcomed
PLANS to establish a commissioner to protect the rights and needs of children here was today welcomed by a number of leading children's organisations.
A public consultation process on the appointment of a commissioner was launched today at Mitchell House Special School in Belfast.
Speaking during the launch, junior ministers Denis Haughey and Dermot Nesbitt urged everyone with an interest in children's affairs to make their views heard during the process.
Citing the establishment of a children's commissioner as "one of the most important developments since devolution", Mr Haughey said: "The Executive wants to ensure it is at the leading edge of best practice in protecting children's rights.
"We must recognise children as citizens in their own right and ensure that conditions exist to enable them to enjoy a happy, safe and secure childhood."

Australian lawmakers take tough action against violent gangs
Australia's tolerance of criminal gangs snapped yesterday with action by the federal and two state governments following the car-bomb deaths of two men in Perth and vicious pack rapes in Sydney.
The nation's organised crime-buster, the National Crime Authority, has been called in to help investigate the deaths of former top detective Donald Hancock and Lawrence Lewis, believed to be the victims of vengeance by the Gypsy Jokers bike gang.
Western Australia has already made new anti-gang laws a priority for the state Parliament. And in Sydney, New South Wales Premier Bob Carr has introduced a package of laws that gives widens police powers and introduces much tougher sentences in response to public outrage at apparently racially motivated gang rapes and other violence in the city's western suburbs. Carr has also supported any appeal that may be lodged by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdry, QC, against sentences ranging from 18 months to six years handed down on three youths who took part in a brutal gang rape. The sentencing of another youth has been deferred ahead of a possible appeal.
And federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison, welcoming the intervention of the authority in the WA car bombing investigation, has announced that a report on nationwide anti-gang laws will be accelerated because of worsening violence.

 6 September 2001 

The other `stolen children' need more
While attention was focused on the drama of the Tampa, another group of "boat people" – loyal Australians all – was making waves in Federal Parliament, if not on the high seas. A decade ago, mass indignation followed disclosures about a group of people many hardly knew existed. They were the British child migrants; children as young as three or four "transported" from orphanages in Britain to be raised – which in many cases meant bashed, bullied and sexually abused – in orphanages and institutions in this country.
A prematurely terminated State Government inquiry in Western Australia, a more successful effort in Queensland, a lawsuit (settled out of court) against the Christian Brothers in New South Wales, and other negative publicity resulted in apologies by religious bodies and practical help (the Catholic Church, the main offender, being the most forthcoming). Throughout all this the Federal Government and its ministers stood apart, blaming the British ("who sent them") and the churches ("who cared for them"), but never themselves.
This, despite the government's willing participation in and promotion of the scheme and the uncomfortable fact that, by act of parliament, the Australian minister for immigration was, from 1946, the children's legal guardian.

Study Says Illegal Drugs Infesting Many Schools
Illegal drugs are infesting many of America's schools where a zero tolerance policy has done little to curb youth drug use, a report released on Wednesday found.
The report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York, estimated about 60 percent of U.S. high school students -- or 9.5 million -- were at schools where drugs were used, kept or sold.
In middle school, the report said 30 percent of children -- almost 5 million -- were at schools where drugs were kept or available for sale.
"Drugs and alcohol have infested our schools and threaten our children and their ability to learn and develop their talents," Joseph Califano, CASA president, told a news conference to release the report.

Nordic comparison: growth in use of hard drugs fastest in Finland
According to a newly published information package on drug use in Finland, the relative increase in the use of very dangerous illegal drugs has been greater in Finland than in the other Nordic Countries.
Contrary to the other countries of the Nordic region, the extensive use of heroin did not reach Finland until the late 1990s. By the year 1998 the number of users of heroin and amphetamines had grown to between 11,000 and 14,000.
In Norway the number of problem users doubled in the 1980s and 1990s. The growth has been slower in Denmark and Sweden.
The use of illegal drugs increased in all Nordic Countries during the 1990s. The most commonly used illegal drug is cannabis, but other drugs, such as ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD and cocaine have gained a foothold in the region. The use of cannabis is the most common in Denmark, where a quarter of teenagers aged 15 to 16 have used it at least once.
Growth in the use of cannabis has been greatest in Finland and Norway. In 1995 five percent of 15- and 16-year-olds had tried it. By 1999 there had been an increase of 10%.

Arizona Outreach Campaign Curbs Youth Gangs
The city of Mesa, Ariz., has found that a combination of targeted social services and strong community support is effective in reducing youth gangs, according to the Aug. 1 Children & Youth Funding Report.
The Mesa Gang Intervention Project provides daily services to 100 former gang members. Services include English as a Second Language classes, job training, arts education, recreation, and a tattoo removal program.
Project Coordinator Kimo Souza explained that the main components of the program are intervention at the individual and family levels, prevention, and enforcement.
The intervention team is comprised of detectives, probation officers, project officials, case managers, a youth-intervention specialist, a neighborhood-development specialist, and a former gang member as a counselor.
David Ashe, commander of the Mesa Police Department, said the multifaceted approach is critical to the program's success.
It cost about $350,000 a year to run the program, which is funded by the city of Mesa and the Arizona Juvenile Corrections Department. In addition, the program received a $75,000 grant from Motorola.

 5 September 2001 

US: Juvenile center teaches home improvement skills
The Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home has a new program that has its participants pounding with enthusiasm. The Survival School program is teaching residents how to put up stud walls, plaster, install electrical outlets, and shingle -- basic handyman skills.
"The kids have responded really well, better than I ever imagined," Josh Guerue, a youth specialist at the home. "For some of them, it's really sparked an interest."
Everyone at the juvenile home has been given the opportunity to participate in the Survival School, which is in the pilot stage.
The past week, six full-time residents were working on an 8-by-10 barn-style shed that is starting to take shape. It will soon be skinned with siding, topped with shingles, trimmed and painted. "These are skills that they can use in their own homes," said Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home Assistant Director Bernie Vallier. "More than that, we try to show them that they can earn a living doing this stuff."
A shop area in the lower level of the home houses what Guerue calls the "practice room." Four stud walls allow the students to try their hand at everything from hanging drywall, to light electrical wiring. The students who showed the most aptitude in class were invited to work on other projects.

Ireland: Calls for State help for those considering suicide
Suicide prevention programmes aimed at individuals and communities were urgently needed in the State, the head of a child suicide bereavement service said at a conference on children's issues in Limerick yesterday.
Ms Ros McCarthy, head of S�l�s, Barnardos bereavement service for child suicide, said that, at a conservative estimate, 15 per cent of Irish adolescents contemplated suicide.
Between 1994 and 2000, there had been two suicides in the five- to nine-year age group, 25 in the 10- to 14-year group and 251 in the 15- to 19-year group. "There were 413 suicides last year; 47 of those were under 19," she said.
She was speaking at the four-day International Forum on Child Welfare world forum, which is being hosted by Barnardos at the University of Limerick.

Measuring Bad Behavior
The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have figured prominently in discussions of crime since at least the Nixon era, but their reliability has long been suspect. A major reason is substantial underreporting. For a variety of reasons, including distrust of law-enforcement officials, many crimes are not reported to local police departments, the source of the FBI data. Furthermore, the number of crimes that police departments report can vary from year to year depending on budgets. The FBI cannot legally enforce the cooperation of local police departments and state agencies, and so it is not surprising that for several years in the 1990s, six states (the largest in terms of population was Illinois) supplied no data, forcing the FBI to estimate the number of crimes in those states.

Victimization SOURCES: FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Violent crime statistics shown above include robbery (except of businesses),
rape and aggravated assault and exclude crimes against children younger
than 12. Victimization data exclude incidents not reported to the police.

Local police sometimes cook the books, either underreporting to make crime in their area appear to be under control or overreporting to support requests for more funding. Fabrication of this kind has presumably declined as police departments have become more publicly accountable in the past few decades, but it still persists, as recent reports of data manipulation in New York City, Philadelphia and Boca Raton, Fla., testify.
To supplement the UCR, the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1973 started an annual survey of about 50,000 households designed to count the number of crime victims. Many respondents did not correctly recall when a crime was committed, putting it in the wrong year, for example, and some even failed to recall crimes in which they were known to be victims. Despite such limitations, however, the National Crime Victimization Surveys, as they are called, are a reasonably good guide to overall crime trends, as shown by their rough concordance with data on homicide, the best recorded of the UCR categories.
The chart compares the UCR and victimization data in terms of serious violent crime. The UCR numbers are not only much lower because of incomplete reporting but are misleading as an indicator of violent crime trends because reporting improved over the past several decades. The extent of the improvement is suggested by the growing convergence of the UCR with the victimization survey: In 1973 the number of violent crimes reported by the UCR totaled only 38 percent of those reported by the survey but increased gradually to between 80 and 84 percent in the second half of the 1990s and is expected to rise further. Improved reporting, together with a newly introduced system that provides greater detail on crime incidents, has increased the usefulness of the UCR as an analytic tool, but as an indicator of national crime trends it still remains deficient.
The UCR covers eight types of violent and property offenses-so-called index crimes-but excludes others, such as drug violations, simple assault, vandalism, prostitution, statutory rape, child abuse, and white-collar offenses such as embezzlement, stock fraud, forgery, counterfeiting and cybercrime. These types of infractions are excluded from the index because they are not readily brought to the attention of the police (for example, embezzlement), are rare (kidnapping) or are not serious enough to warrant inclusion (disorderly conduct).

 4 September 2001 

US: Court program monitors young abusers of drugs
Juvenile Drug Court participants face a tough-love approach
The Oahu Family Court's new program for juvenile substance abusers keeps close track of its clients. Participants in the eight-month Juvenile Drug Court program are monitored by their parents, probation officers, public defenders, therapists and the judge frequently, and often randomly.
The consequences and rewards for their performance in the program are immediate.
"We're hoping that the Juvenile Drug Court provides youth with drug problems with more intensive supervision, faster access to treatment, increased incentives and sanctions that are going to be graduated," Family Court Judge Karen Radius said yesterday.
The Family Court program began in late July and received its first 10 participants over the past two weeks. The court invited the media to watch yesterday's proceeding, provided that the participants were not identified. Four participants appeared before Radius yesterday for their second weekly status update.

Canada: Eating disorders on rise, affecting more younger teens
A new study on teenage girls in Ontario has found "alarming" numbers have unhealthy attitudes toward food and practise dieting methods that could lead to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
More disturbing is the fact that the problems appear to be starting at an earlier age than previously seen, with significant numbers of girls aged 12 to 14 displaying what the authors call "disordered" -- unhealthy or problematic -- eating attitudes and behaviour. Such behaviour includes self-induced vomiting and the use of diet pills, laxatives and diuretics to control weight.
"It's really scary. And really unfortunate because another thing that we found was that most of these disordered behaviours and attitudes are not being detected," said lead author Jennifer Jones, a research scientist with Toronto's University Health Network and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.
Jones added the team is currently studying a group of girls aged nine to 12 and is seeing some of the same troubling tendencies even at that young age.
Given the extent of the problem, the researchers recommend that doctors talk to their female teenage patients about body image and diet as a matter of course.

Ireland: Success for autistic child's parents
Five-year-old autistic boy John Meehan used to lie on the floor screaming. His behaviour meant he could not remain even at playschool. But thanks to the determination of his parents, this morning he steps into an ordinary classroom, writes Emmet Oliver, Education Correspondent
Around the country today, thousands of young children will take their first steps into the formal education system. John Meehan will be one of them. He will have a school bag, his new uniform and possibly a tear on his face, as he lets go of his parents' hands and walks into Glaunthaune National School, Cork, where principal Ms Maura O'Keefe and her staff are looking forward to meeting him.
But unlike the other children, John will be accompanied by a special needs assistant. She will sit in the classroom with him in case he needs a helping hand. When he comes home from school, he also has to work for another few hours with his tutor.
But apart from these differences, John will be like any other exuberant schoolboy. It has taken his parents almost two years to achieve their dream – of John sitting in a mainstream class with other boys and girls.

Australia: Alarm at youth detention centre escapes
The State Government has expressed alarm that more than 200 young offenders escaped from Victoria's three juvenile detention centres in the year to June.
Community Services Minister Christine Campbell said she was concerned at the figures, which were obtained by The Age. "It's not good for the young person, it's not good for the community," she said.
Ms Campbell said security had been tightened at the Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre, particularly when transporting offenders.
But she said Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre was an open custodial centre and questioned the need for "20-foot fences with barbed wire" at a place that encouraged young people to take responsibility. She said extra precautions had been implemented to improve security at dusk when escapes were more likely.

 3 September 2001 

Sudan: Child Soldiers Head Home for New Life
Youngsters who were removed from fighting in southern Sudan are being repatriated. U.N. agency taught them job skills. Six months after being pulled out of rebel forces fighting in Sudan's 18-year civil war, a batch of former child soldiers has gone home.
U.N. officials said Wednesday that 3,480 former child fighters--some as young as 8--have been sent back to their homes in southern Sudan after being retrained as teachers, mechanics and farmers.
Over the next 18 months, the U.N. Children's Fund will oversee the return of 4,000 other former child soldiers taken out of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, which promised the agency it would remove all children from its ranks. The first batch of youths spent six months in transit camps, where they did job training, before returning to their homes in the Awil East and West regions of Bahr el Ghazal province in southern Sudan.
Martha Bragan, an official of the U.N. children's agency, said she didn't foresee re-integration problems for the children and their families.

Michigan: New laws protect social workers in volatile home investigations
Five laws took effect Sept. 1 to help protect Michigan Family Independence Agency workers:
Public Act 14 requires the FIA to provide a training program for employees required to make investigations or home visits. Workers learn how to pacify threatening behavior and recognize potentially dangerous situations. It also allows an investigator to have a second FIA employee or police officer with them on home visits. Public Acts 19 and 21 prohibit people from impersonating an FIA employee. Such an impersonation would be punishable by two years in prison and a $1,000 fine.  And Public Acts 20 and 22 makes the maximum penalty for assault and battery of an FIA employee a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Threatening an FIA employee becomes a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
In 1998 Lisa Putman was beaten, bound, gagged and tossed into a bathtub to die -- all because she was a state social worker. State laws expected to help prevent a repeat of the 1998 tragedy took effect Saturday.
The laws allow state social workers to make potentially volatile home visits in pairs or with a police officer. They also will be trained to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations. And people who threaten or attack Family Independence Agency employees because of their jobs will face stiffer penalties.

New York City Evaluates Providers at Group Homes
In an ongoing evaluation of its foster care system, the city released rankings yesterday of the agencies that run group homes for about 4,000 of the children who are in the custody of the city's Administration for Children's Services. All but 7 of the 46 agencies received scores the city considers satisfactory or better, and none performed poorly enough to warrant being shut down, city officials said. But two of the seven with less than satisfactory grades are actually city offices that operate residences in three boroughs. A city office running group homes in Queens and Manhattan was in last place.
Officials cautioned that the diversity of such residential services, known collectively as congregate care, made them more difficult to measure and to compare fairly than the programs using foster families, which were graded earlier this summer. But the officials said the evaluation of group residences was the most sophisticated ever attempted.
"It's a work in progress," said Nicholas Scoppetta, the city's child welfare commissioner, adding that the methodology would be refined and expanded next year. "But we now have much more information about all of these congregate care programs than we did before, and we have a better idea of performance."
The three poorest-performing agencies will be placed on probation, Mr. Scoppetta said. Besides the city office, they are Edwin Gould Services for Children, one of the city's oldest nonprofit foster care agencies, and Miracle Makers, established 15 years ago. All three will have to submit improvement plans to city monitors, and could lose children to better-performing agencies.

Australia: People see being single as their normal way of life
A QUARTER of all Australians will never marry, according to new research. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said increasing marital breakdown, longer life expectancy and fewer couples marrying or re-marrying have contributed to the decline in the number of marriages.
The ABS report predicts that 29 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women will never marry.
Relationships Australia NSW CEO Anne Hollonds said it has become socially acceptable to live alone, particularly for women. "We have a generation of young adults who have been raised to be independent and self sufficient, both financially and emotionally," Ms Hollonds said. "The focus is more on individual happiness and success. They will have a partnership only if it complements their lifestyle.

South Africa: School Hostels for AIDS orphans
Rumours are doing the rounds that hostels at state schools in Gauteng may soon be used to accommodate Aids orphans. Several principals have confirmed the rumours, at the same time expressing their concern over any such move. Beeld reports that about 30 hostels in the province will be affected. It does not include 21 special schools.
A spokesperson for the Gauteng Education Department, Sally Rowney, said: �It�s an option to house Aids orphans in empty hostels. It is going to become a crisis in the country and we must start thinking creatively�. Rowney said the names of children who want to be placed in "special" schools – like a girls' school – would be put on a waiting list. "The policy of the education department is that a school must take in the children in its feeder area. The department does not want a child to travel further than 15km to the nearest school�.
Rowney said there is a shortage of hostels in the rural areas. A possibility would be to build ones in the future.

Northern Ireland: Growing problems for children highlighted
A childhood for children growing up in troublespots in Northern Ireland was needed as part of the peace process, a conference on child welfare in Limerick heard yesterday.
Dr Marie Smyth, chief executive of the Institute for Conflict Resolution in Northern Ireland, said there were transitional problems for young people, particularly males, and new expectations for the protection of children needed to be created. "We need to have a determination on what we have done to childhood in Northern Ireland," she said.
Institutional change on housing and education and a shift in intercommunity relations was needed, placing children's rights at the top of the agenda. Speaking at the Barnardos International Forum for Child Welfare, she said the common experience of childhood as carefree, focused on play and enjoying the protection of adults was missing from many people's experience over a 30-year period.
"Young people are suddenly supposed to have some `Road to Damascus' experience. There is a generation who do not know anything other than street violence and rioting," she said.
Mr Martin Murphy, of Barnardos, Northern Ireland, said violence was still the first form of response to any difference or conflict despite seven years of a ceasefire.

U.S. judge upholds Florida gay adoption ban
In a ruling hailed by conservatives and condemned by gay rights advocates, a federal judge Thursday upheld a Florida law that bans homosexuals from adopting children. U.S. District Judge Lawrence King ruled there is "no fundamental right to adopt." And, he said, the gay plaintiffs who had challenged the Florida law never disagreed with the state's contention that "married heterosexual families provide children with a more stable home environment, proper gender identification and less social stigmatization than homosexual homes."
The state had asserted that it was in "the best interest" of a child to be raised by a married family, and the judge said it was "unnecessary" for the court to determine whether that was correct.

China changes one-child policy, 2 children allowed
The Chinese government has reviewed the one-child policy after 21 years and has introduced a new policy approving couples, both of whom are the only child under the one-child policy, to have two children, a Chinese official said Thursday.
Cai Fang, director of the Institute of Population under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Kyodo News of the new policy during an interview in Tokyo.
As an exception to the one-child policy which started in China in 1980, couples in agricultural villages with strong tendencies of wanting to have a boy in order to secure labor power, were allowed to have a second child if their first child was a girl.
People belonging to an ethnic minority were also allowed to have two or more children under the one-child policy. With the introduction of the new policy, couples living in densely populated areas such as Beijing and Shanghai will now be able to have two children.