Conquering Teen Dating Abuse

Teen dating violence, unfortunately, is more common than we think.  It is easy for adults to write teenage relationships off as “childish” or “fleeting,” but the relationships a teenager has will inevitably affect the relationships they will have for the rest of their lives.  According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in three teens experiences abuse in a dating relationship.  Yes, you read that right:  one in three teens experiences dating abuse.  There are even more shocking statistics about teen dating abuse, including that one in ten teenagers in New York City schools reports experiencing physical or sexual violence in a dating relationship within the past year.… <Read More>

Teenagers, The Phantom Menace you were to read the news everyday, you might be inclined to believe that the United States has been under constant assault by a teenage menace.  This accepted fact, however, could not be more distant from the truth.

The truth is that in 2008, “Only 661 juveniles are in the state system, and yet 2,134 state employees watch over them.”  While New York deals with an overcrowded prison population, what is conspicuously absent are a wealth of child crime lords.  What is obvious is that New York, like the rest of the United States have some politicians with some deep seeded prejudices against teenagers.

The danger of this sort of criminalization of children is a sort of self-fulfilling prophesy.  Police officers, looking to crackdown on the childhood criminal conspiracy target  the offenders.  Judges feel the need to send the message to other teens with harsher sentences, and legislators enact tougher laws to crack down on the menace.

Most teens can not vote and so they are the perfect scapegoat for a spike in crime.  We need to move away from this impulse as a society to help prevent children from being targeted.… <Read More>

The Costs of Juvenile “Justice”

In November 2006, Darryl Thompson, a 15-year-old boy, died in restraints after being pinned to the floor in the Tryon Boys Residential Center in New York.  Such force was used after Darryl repeatedly asked for recreation time.  Last August, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated and discovered that the state uses “excessive force on youths in custody,” and will sue the state if reform does not happen.  Likewise, the Gossett juvenile prison in upstate New York is often referred to as “Rug Burn City, a reference to the injuries [youths] sustained when guards . . . . pinned young offenders face down on the carpeted floor.”… <Read More>

A Just Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system and its courts are in place in each state in order to promote justice in the punishment of delinquent youths. Among every state, every city, every county and every individual court, there is a common goal of doing what is best for both the child and for the community. Judges are to reach a judgment that can punish a youth for his or her wrong, but even more so, punish them in order to prevent future crimes.  The juvenile justice system is meant to punish according to the individual needs of each and every delinquent. The authors of Juvenile Justice: A Social, Historical and Legal Perspective believe the use of the term “ juvenile justice system” is misleading. They believe the variation that extends from practice being at the discretion of police, district attorneys, and probation officers is broader than a system should allow for.  “System” to the authors is a misnomer, because each practitioner has his or her own juvenile justice ideology. To me, variation is the beauty of having a separate system for treating juveniles. The “system” is in place in order for each delinquent to be dealt with in a manner that is best suited to rehabilitate the youth – no matter who is within the system, what punishments it provides for, or the procedure the courts or correctional facilities lay out. The system is in place to differentiate youth crimes from adult crimes. If there is variation, it is because the needs of the youth are factors in determining the sentence then the system is functioning in its proper capacity.  … <Read More>

To Tell or Not to Tell? Imagine being 11 years old and the only father you know now wants to adopt you. The problem is that you never knew he wasn’t your real dad. This is the situation in one of the adoption cases I’m currently working on. The biological mother remarried the child’s step-dad when the child was only 2 years old. Ever since then, the both the biological mother and step dad have raised the child as their own biological child.

They come in to officially adopt the child under the condition that no one is allowed to tell the child that he is being adopted and that the man he always knew to be his father is in fact his step-father.

Not telling this sixth grader creates a whole set of legal as well as understandably emotional problems. First and foremost in order to proceed to adoption a social worker must visit the home and prepare a home-study which is a report outlining the home conditions, interviews with all residents of the home, how the child interacts in the home, background information on all members in the household. One of the most important aspects of the home-study is the interview with the child to see how the child is interacting in the home. The problem arises here because there can be no such interview with the child because no one is allowed to tell the child he is being adopted. Other problems may arise depending on how the judge feels about this 11 year old child not being informed about the adoption.… <Read More>