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“They were invisible to the very people who were supposed to protect them…they were children who were punished for being vulnerable.” (Angelina Chapin).

A HuffPost investigation into domestic sex trafficking features interviews with survivors of child sex trafficking, including 15-year-old Lici who was sentenced to twenty years in prison in Texas where there are no laws “that protect sex trafficking victims who commit crimes related to their exploitation.” In a piece highlighting the abuse-to-prison pipeline that so many trafficking victims face, Cherice Hopkins says that “…to effectively confront racial disparities in our justice system, we must have an intersectional approach that applies both a gender and racial lens. To do otherwise overlooks the unique forms of injustice girls of color experience and perpetuates practices and attitudes that render them invisible.”

Juvenile Justice 

Youth First Initiative and RISE for Youth recently released, A United Vision for a World Without Youth Prisons, the product of a visioning session with young people from different jurisdictions to “share their vision for what their communities could look like without youth prisons.” The nine recommendations presented include investing the money saved from youth prison closures into economic justice, mental health supports, investing in young people in communities to have fun and more.

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice updated their resource on the use of the valid court order exception, which gives judges the discretion to place youth adjudicated of status offenses in locked detention if they violate a direct court order (status offenses are offenses that would otherwise not be considered crimes if committed by an adult), reflecting recently released data from fiscal year 2016. According to the data, 32 U.S. states and territories reported no uses of the VCO, 16 reported between one and 100, and eight reported over 100 uses of the VCO.

A North Carolina Superior Court Judge’s ruling to dismiss one young person’s case has broad implications for young people charged as adults prior to the passage of the state’s raise the age legislation. This could have an impact for the 21,200 16- and 17-year-olds charged as adults in the period between the bill’s passage and implementation. In California, Assembly Bill 1423 would make it possible to reverse the transfer of a young person from adult court when the information that led to the transfer proves to be untrue. The bill awaits a signature from Governor Gavin Newsom.

Thanks to resolutions introduced by Senator Kamala Harris and Congressman Tony Cardenas, October has been officially designated, National Youth Justice Action Month. The resolutions aim “to shine a light on the broken juvenile justice model that prioritizes incarceration over rehabilitation and support”.

“These actions make clear who the administration deems valuable, deserving of respect, and worthy of compassion—and who can be discarded or ignored.” (Nora Ellmann).

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress, “immigration detention is dangerous for women’s health and rights”. The report hones in on three areas critical to the health, well-being, and rights of women and girls which, as the authors write, are where “some of the most egregious rights violations have occurred in immigration detention.” The areas outlined include maternal health, reproductive autonomy, and mental health.

Ceres Policy Research released a new report on the chilling effect of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) courthouse arrests, noting how they are deterring immigrants from attending child welfare, domestic violence, adult criminal, and youth court hearings. 41% of respondents reported avoiding domestic violence hearings where they are the victim, 37% avoid child welfare hearings when involved in dependency court, and 35% avoid youth court hearings where their child is appearing.

Federal Policy 

second analysis of the impact a proposed USDA regulatory change would have on Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility estimates that roughly 684,000 households with children would lose SNAP benefits and nearly one million students receiving free or reduced lunch would lose automatic eligibility—numbers that were grossly underestimated in a primary analysis.

The Children’s Defense Fund, ChildFocus, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Generations United, FosterClub, Juvenile Law Center, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association co-created and released a guide to implementing the Family First act. The Coalition for Juvenile Justice also published a resource delineating the opportunities and risks for youth justice and campaigns to end youth incarceration as they relate to the Family First act.

Based on the findings of their Voices of Youth Count research initiative, and using an organized participatory process, Chapin Hall produced a set of federal recommendations for addressing youth homelessness. Of young people interviewed who were experiencing homelessness, “about 44% of young women, ages 18–25, indicated they were pregnant or a parent”. Recommendations for federal action to support these youth include increasing school supports, increased funding for shelter and housing, and connection to programs that provide prenatal and postnatal care, parenting training, and home visiting.

On the second anniversary of the #MeToo hashtag, Tarana Burke launched a new hashtag and campaign: #MeTooVoter. She is urging presidential candidates to pay attention to survivors of sexual abuse and address sexual violence on the campaign trail.

Addressing Trauma 

Kaiser Permanente is allocating $2.75 million in research to counter the effects of childhood adversity, part of a multi-pronged approach to prevent ACEs. The Centers for Disease Control released, Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence, a report that outlines what can be done to prevent ACEs. A new study from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago looks at the “…innovations designed to promote screening for contributors to toxic stress during pediatric well-child visits and connect families to early childhood and community service providers.” Among the findings: improved relationships with families, stronger relationships with community and legal systems, and improved collaboration across staff at clinics.

Unsafe at School

In Albuquerque public schools, “threat assessments”—initiated to address growing concerns over school shootings, are disproportionately targeting special education students and African-American children. In Kansas, a 13-year-old girl was arrested and charged with felony criminal threatening for pointing a “finger gun” at fellow classmates. The possibility of sending her to a diversion program instead of juvenile detention was discussed at her initial court hearing, and a second hearing will be held on December 17th. She is currently suspended from school for the incident.

New Mexico police officer Zachary Christiansen has resigned following investigations into his use of excessive force on an 11-year-old girl at Mesa View Middle School that was captured on his body cam. All his claims about the sixth-grader’s school violations proved to be untrue. While it was found that he violated department policy, the state police and district attorney’s office did not pursue criminal charges.

According to a report from the Association of American Universities, students who participated in both the 2015 and 2019 climate survey on sexual assault and sexual misconduct reported an increase in the rate of nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent (up 3% for undergraduate women). Additionally, “nearly 40% of undergraduate women at Stanford University say they’ve been forced into unwanted sex or sexual touching by their senior year…”

Education Reform

The National Black Women’s Justice Institute released policy recommendations for ending school pushout for black girls and other girls of color at the local, state, and federal levels. Following the lead of lawmakers in New York and California, Boston City Council announced support for a bill that would address natural hair discrimination. “This is about letting black girls learn,” said councilor Kim Janey.

New York City’s Department of Education is changing its regulations regarding harassment and bullying, expanding the definition of harassment, and providing guidelines for conducting investigations and supporting students who report harassment or bullying.

Child trafficking prevention will now be a required curriculum item in K-12 classrooms in Florida, thanks to unanimous approval from the Board of Education. Florida is the first state to implement this type of guideline.


  • The National Network for Youth is accepting proposals to present at the 2020 National Summit on Youth Homelessness. Deadline to submit a proposal is November 18, 2019.





“When people don’t want to hear you, you make them hear you. If I would have said something, then maybe someone would have heard me.”

Source: Lici,18

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