Weekly Round-Up: July 28th, 2014

Child Neglect

  • A father appealed a Suffolk County Family Court decision, which found that he had neglected his son, Laequise P.  The facts allege that while at a party, a then 8-year-old Laequise P., cursed at an adult.  In order to discipline him, his father spanked him.  At the Family Court fact-finding hearing, the father admitted that he had spanked the boy with an open hand.  There were also allegations that the father had struck the child with a belt once while they were home; the father denied these allegations.  In child neglect proceedings, the petitioner has the burden of proving neglect by a preponderance of the evidence.  The Appellate Division, Second Department, found that the burden had not been met with respect to whether the father had struck the boy with a belt.  Furthermore, “The father’s open-handed spanking of the child as a form of discipline after he heard the child curse at an adult was a reasonable use of force and, under the circumstances presented here, did not constitute excessive corporal punishment.”  The Appellate Division denied and dismissed the petition.

 

Human Trafficking

  • This past week NY1 News presented a weeklong news segment on the epidemic of Human Trafficking in New York City. Often times when people think of “human trafficking” or “sex trafficking,” they think of immigrant girls coming to the United States who are forced to work in the sex trade. However, the reality is that some young girls, born and raised in the five boroughs, are also being trafficked. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services says about 1,900 girls between the ages of 11-18 are commercially and sexually exploited in the city.
  • The internet has provided for a number of ways for traffickers and the “johns” to conduct business. Some pimps require the girls to post photos online of themselves together in what the pimp calls his “stable.” The NYPD’s Vice Squad has been working to identify the pimps and save the girls.
  • On July 17, 2014, the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Sanctuary for Families, and the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court announced a joint initiative that will provide support to immigrant defendants in the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court who are victims of sex trafficking by providing pro bono legal representation in immigration proceedings while also linking them to services.

 

Immigration

  • The United States has been facing an influx in the amount of immigrant children arriving at the border in recent years. Most of the unaccompanied minors are arriving from Central America, and they are often fleeing gang violence. A disproportionately large number of the children are arriving from Honduras, because of increased gang violence and gang related crime. As a response to this immigration issue, President Barack Obama has proposed a special program that will allow Honduran children to apply for refugee status while they are still in their home country.
  • Since October, immigration officials have stopped in excess of 57,000 children attempting to cross the border by themselves. Many of these children will face deportation proceedings at some point after entry. Once deportation proceedings have begun, they can be placed with host families across the United States. The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for housing the children. Recently, the department released vital information about where the children are placed. The information revealed that certain states are home to more unaccompanied minors than others. This disparity has been attributed to the fact that the children are placed in states where there are already Central American communities. Also, the children can be placed with family members if possible. It is estimated that thousands of children have arrived in New York since the start of the year, making it a popular housing state. Many of the children have arrived from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, hoping to be sponsored by members of their extended family. To see an article about unaccompanied minors arriving at the border and a map that depicts state-by-state placement, click here. (Wall Street Journal/Washington Wire)

 

School Safety and Avonte’s Law

  • On October 4, 2013, New York City was on high-alert looking for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo after he walked out of the Riverview School in Long Island City. Avonte had been gone for about 18 minutes before any attempt to locate him began. The school went into lockdown and was searched to see if the teen has inside; however, he was already long gone. For the months following his disappearance, signs were posted all around the city, subway announcements were made daily and social media was requesting any information to help safely return the autistic boy to his family. In January, along the water in College Point, Queens, the search for Avonte Oquendo came to a tragic end when his remains were discovered washed ashore.  (New York Magazine)
  • On July 24, 2014, the City Council approved Intro 131-A, known as Avonte’s Law, which provides for the installation of door alarms in elementary schools and schools with children of special needs where “appropriate for safety purposes.” The Department of Education will work directly with the Police Department to create a list of schools where door alarms should be installed, and will report to the City Council on the schools selected and the timetable.  This bill is aimed at protecting the safety of children and as a way to promote an expedited response in case a child slips out in the future. The next step for this bill will be to get the Mayor’s signature.