Friday, September 30, 2011

County Jails a Bad Place for All Children, Especially Girls

September 27, 2011 by Lawanda Ravoira and Roy Miller Lawanda Ravoira and Roy Miller

Imagine a group of young girls who suffer from depression, severe neglect, sexual and physical abuse and are in the care of a government agency.

Now imagine that these girls’ caretakers have little or no experience working with children, little or no familiarity with the medical and mental health needs of emotionally and physically battered girls, little or no support for formalized training on child development and no supervision by professionals with child-specific experience either. Then consider extremely limited resources for the care, health services and education of these particularly vulnerable and needy children.

This scenario sounds like it would lead straight to public calls for vastly improved child protection and investigations into government agencies’ poor management and improper use of taxpayers’ dollars. Unfortunately, it accurately describes legislation that was rushed through by the 2011 Florida Legislature (Senate Bill 2112) and signed into law.

Ostensibly motivated by officials with a desire to save money, the new law allows children to be housed in county jails outside the oversight, supervision or even inspections by anyone experienced with the care of children, like the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. [Note: For more on the new law from Youth Today, click here.]

Specifically, the children affected are those who have been charged with a juvenile offense and are awaiting for their case to be heard and acted upon in juvenile court.

While critical for all children, highly prescriptive, child-specific detention standards and settings are especially important for young girls:

-Girls enter the juvenile justice system with higher rates of trauma and abuse – research suggests 7 of every 10 have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

-Girls enter the juvenile justice system at earlier ages than boys.

-Girls are detained for significantly less serious crimes than boys.

-Girls remain in detention longer.

Girls are in special need of gender-specific mental and physical health care, including gynecological care and health education that addresses personal safety, self-care, and the prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Both common sense and research tell us that children housed in adult jails are at increased risk. Girls are five times more likely to be sexually assaulted, twice as likely to be beaten by staff, and 50 percent more likely to be attacked with a weapon in an adult facility than in a juvenile facility.

Overall, youth housed in an adult facility are 34 percent more likely to return to jail – an outcome that does not save money.

The NCCD Center for Girls and Young Women and The Children’s Campaign oppose the detention of children in county jails. While far from perfect, detention centers operated by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice are a better alternative.

-Ravoira is director of the Center for Girls & Young Women in Jacksonville, Fla. Miller is president of the Children's Campaign in Tallahassee, Fla.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

GED, ESL & Citizenship Classes Available

GED, ESL & Citizenship Classes are Available at St. Johns and many other convenient locations in our community.

Go here for more info.

LeAnn Rimes Supports Homeless Children

LeAnn Rimes has released a powerful and moving video for her new song "Give" from her upcoming album Lady & Gentlemen out September 27. The soaring, moving ballad showcases LeAnn's signature voice wrapped around inspirational and uplifting lyrics.

To watch the video, go here.

"'Give' is a song with a message about how if we want love, kindness and happiness in our lives, then we need to give some of that back," LeAnn says. "I believe that message needs to be shared with the world."

LeAnn wanted to create a video for the song that that tied into its message, and raised awareness of an issue that is very important to her -- homeless teens across America.

Sadly, 13 homeless kids die on the street every day. In Chicago alone, where the video was filmed on location with youth there, there are approximately 25,000 homeless youth. For the video, LeAnn partnered with StandUp For Kids who's mission is to help homeless and street kids. Every day, in cities across the country, their volunteers go to the streets in order to find, stabilize and otherwise help homeless and street kids improve their lives. The video includes several teens participating from Chicago's own StandUp For Kids program.

"My life is forever changed from this experience," shares LeAnn. "One thing they all said to me is no one looks them in the eye when they see them on the streets, so there's a deep loneliness there and a feeling of almost not existing. I will now always look anyone who's homeless in the eye and smile. That smile could make their whole day."

To read more about LeAnn's experience shooting the music video for "Give," visit:

To learn more about, StandUp For Kids:

Free Legal Fair

Legal Fair Day on October 14, 2011 at the district courthouse from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Free legal advice to the public

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Standing up, Not Standing By: A Cyberbullying Resource

A Free Cyberbullying Toolkit for Educators

This free toolkit has the resources schools need to take an effective stand against cyberbullying. Rely on it to start your year off right.

Every day, you see how cyberbullying hurts students, disrupts classrooms, and impacts your school's culture. So how should you handle it? What are the right things to do and say? What can you do today that will help your students avoid this pitfall of our digital world?

Commonsense Media created this free toolkit to help.

Wings For Life - Love is not Abuse

Wings for L.I.F.E.

(Life-skills Imparted to Families through Education)

Teen Dating Violence
(What teens and parents can do to help break the cycle)

Presented By Doug Southern, Roswell Refuge

Doors open at 5:45. Meeting starts at 6:00 and doors will be shut at 6:15.

Honoring Grandparents for Grandparents Day

Roswell Boys & Girls Club
201 S. Garden
SUNDAY, September 11th, 2011
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
For Questions call: Shelly @ 317-2042

Dinner provided & crafts for children in a family friendly environment
(Sitter available)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Congratulations New Volunteers

New CASA Volunteers

Karen Barnett, Tasha Marlow and Mary Sommers were sworn in on August 24th.  Congratulations and welcome to our CASA family!

Here they are with Volunteer Coordinator Amber Dollar and Judge Charles Currier.

September Happenings

September Happenings

CASA will be closed Monday September 5th for Labor Day

Brown Bag - Thursday September 15
"Tips on How to Talk to Our CASA Children" Great info on how to help us communicate more effectively with the children we are advocating for.

Brown Bag - Tuesday September 27
Q&A: Come with questions, concerns, accomplishments having to do with your case. We love to hear and learn from one another as this is how we continue to grow. This should be fun!

Thank you to all the CASA volunteers who took another case. You are lifesavers. Also a big thanks to those of you who are still working these tough cases. We could not do it without you.

Abuse and Neglect Court: September 7th, 20th and 21st. Court reports due 10 days prior. All of you have been awesome about getting the reports in. Lets not break that streak!

Birthdays and Anniversaries
Nicole Miller Sept. 4 Birthday

Mary Bell Sept. 14 Birthday

Rosemary Hinkle Sept. 23 Birthday

Nancy Morales Sept. 26 Birthday

Reana Gonzales 5 Year Anniversary

Merilyn Robertson 1 Year Anniversary