Archive for the ‘Youth Rights’ Category

Morse v. Frederick

19 March 2007

The Supreme Court is ruling soon on Morse v. Frederick, according to the ACLU (also here). The case involved an incident in 2002 in which Joseph Frederick was suspended for 10 days after holding up a sign that read “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” at a rally (not a school rally or otherwise sponsored by the school). Frederick is now 23, and teaches English to Chinese high-schoolers.

The Frederick ruling will also determine if Tinker v. Des Moines is still a good law. In 1969, after two students protested the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to school, the court ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

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Penguin Book Returns Pending Further Protest

13 January 2007

A non-fiction book about a pair of penguins in New York City’s Central Park Zoo who raised an adopted egg together will return to the library in schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina), according to Banned books and other forms of censorship. After some parents had protested it, it was removed from shelves in four elementary schools there.

Apparently the issue was that the adoptive parent penguins were both male.

The superintendent said that the procedure was not followed correctly by the protesting parents, so until there is further protest the book will be allowed in the libraries.

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DoD Changes Recruitment Policy

12 January 2007

Settling a lawsuit brought by the NYCLU, the Department of Defense made several changes to its database system, according to the ACLU. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of several high school students who were in the database.

Now, the DoD will not be able to disseminate information to law enforcement, intelligence, or other agencies, and the database’s use will be restricted to military recruiting. Also, the information on any given student will only be kept for three years, social security numbers will no longer be collected, and the procedure by which a student can block the DoD from collecting information on them will be clarified.

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Students have Fingers Scanned

8 January 2007

Middle-schoolers in Martin County now pay for lunch by having their finger scanned, according to Aftermath News. The system has obviously created privacy concerns, but the school district says that it might be expanded to include buses and other places.

Parents can send in a form to allow the student to continue using the keypad system that had been used previously.

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Draft Registration

30 December 2006

The Future of Freedom Foundation recently published an article by Sheldon Richman against draft registration. George Bush has said that he has no intention of starting a draft, but that hasn’t convinced anyone in Washington to end draft registration.

From the FFF:

What possible reason is there today for imposing on 18-year-old males the requirement to register for a nonexistent draft and to compel them to inform the government whenever they change their address? If we don’t need a draft, we certainly don’t need registration for a draft. Even government officials ought to be able to follow that logic.

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Since Cops in LA Are So Honest…

10 December 2006

No one is likely to have any problem with the fact that the videotape from an alleged assault by a police officer in Los Angeles will not be released. The police department says that it is conducting an internal investigation, according to MSNBC, and that the videotape will therefore not be made public. The video shows Sean Joseph Meade, a police officer, assaulting a handcuffed teenager in a holding cell.

Police Chief William J. Bratton has refused to release details of what happened. The officer is scheduled to have a court appearance Monday.

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Life Sentences…

16 November 2006

Are usually not for kids. According to BBC News, over 40 children in Colorado jails are serving life sentences, in violation of international human rights laws. While three decades ago minors were hardly ever tried as adults, an increase in teen violence in the 1980s caused over 40 states to pass laws making it easier to try minors as adults. In Colorado, some people as young as 14 have been given life sentences.

Many of them are sent to Limon Prison, the site of riots, rapes, and murders. One 17-year-old, now there for his ninth year, was given a life sentence when a drug deal resulted in another youth being shot accidentally. Though the jury accepted that it was accidental, he was found guilty of charges that, since he was tried as an adult, carry a mandatory life sentence.

When a minor is charged in Colorado, the prosecutor has three days to decide whether to try them as a child or as an adult.

Though some children may deserve these sentences, many do not.

American children though are better off than children in many countries. From a BBC series:

Almost every country in the world has committed itself to respecting the human rights of children. But in reality, the signatures on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, are not worth the paper they are written on.

The BBC had a section on Pakistan, the United States, and Kenya.

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Armbands Prohibited

12 October 2006

Watson Chapel school district recently suspended several students for wearing armbands in opposition to the school uniform policy, according to the ACLU. Not only are these armbands disruptive to the learning environment, it has been found theoretically possible to strangle someone with such an armband.

One student who entered school property with his armband was taken to the library to wait with all of the other students who were threatening their classmates with their outrageous clothing. In the library were two police officers and a sheriff’s deputy.

“How do we explain the meaning of the American Revolution to students when we tell them they can’t disagree with authorities in a peaceful, lawful and constitutionally protected way?” asked the Arkansas ACLU Executive Director Rita Sklar.

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Students’ Free Speech Supressed

26 August 2006

The ACLU of Southern California submitted a friend of the court brief with the California Court of Appeal in support of free speech for student journalists, according to their website. Andrew D. Smith, a former high school student at Novato High School and current Marine had two articles for the student newspaper, the Buzz, censored due to his views on immigration. The articles had been approved but copies of The Buzz were later confiscated after parents complained, saying it violated school policy.

The articles were related to matters of public concern and therefore deserving of protection, according to the ACLU-SC. The implications of this censorship are not minor, as it could result in future student censorship.

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Schools Using Electric Shocks, Starving Kids in NY

21 August 2006

An NYCLU article (mildly titled “NYS Schools Should Not Use Noxious Stimuli To Teach Students With Disabilities, NYCLU Testifies”), announces that the NYCLU argued against proposed “regulations” regarding ways school officials can control students with disabilities at a public hearing.

The “regulations” would allow officials to use electric shock, starvation, strangulation, hit or kick students, or withhold sleep, shelter, bathroom use, food, water, bedding, or clothing from them.

If you’re a disabled kid, get out of New York State.

State-sponsored starvation sounds like something a cross between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union would do: starve the disabled when food isn’t being produced fast enough. Withholding water sounds like what Nazis would do in the Sahara desert. And withholding clothing and electric shocks are the kind of things the US military does. Basically, this would be a clear violation of the students’ human and civil rights.

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