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Toxic Stress and National Disgrace
We know more this month about girls’ experiences in immigration detention facilities, and conditions confirm advocates’ fears.
Court declarations include discussion of being “crammed into a windowless room with 60 other girls and deprived of proper sleep or food for three days” and “enforced hunger, enforced dehydration, enforced sleeplessness.” A six-year-old reported being sexually abused.
“They told us to behave or we’d be there forever,” eight-year-old Sandy Gonzalez told the Washington Post. Ten-year-old Dixiana wrote, “a male officer kicked me to wake me up… the kick scared me and hurt.” Excerpts of the more than one thousand pages of court declarations are available here.
A ProPublica investigation found that “in the past five years, police have responded to at least 125 calls reporting sex offenses at shelters that primarily serve immigrant children.”
More than 700 children have still not been reunited with their families, despite the July 26 deadline. The federal government said these children “are ineligible or not available” for reunification – including because their parents have already been deported or were coerced into waiving their right to reunification. More than 1,400 of the young people who were reunited with family are still in ICE custody, and they are “exhibiting signs of anxiety, introversion, regression and other mental health issues.”
A federal judge has ordered an evaluation by an independent monitor and immediate changes to the treatment of immigrant youth in detention facilities, including obtaining informed consent or a court order before administering psychotropic drugs.
In Florida, a 24-year-old mother of three went to voluntarily pay a $150 traffic fine – and was arrested and sent to an ICE detention facility, where she faces the threat of deportation. “She gets to see her children only once a week … one of her children, who is 9 years old, was at one point held in federal custody. The child was so traumatized by the experience that she now fears even visiting her mother and possibly being detained again.”
And children are still experiencing trauma from the deportation of their parents: “Less than a year earlier, the girl was excelling in school … But the girl’s performance in school changed when her father was deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. ‘She was terrified of becoming further separated from her family by going to school.'”
A new study in Pediatrics shows a correlation between parents’ ACE scores and children’s behavior. “This is the first report showing a relationship between overall parental ACE count and children’s behavioral health diagnoses, which indicates that the impacts of elevated ACE counts on emotional well-being may extend across generations.”
Eighteen-year-old Nia Wilson and her older sister Lahtifa Wilson were stabbed at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station on July 22; Nia Wilson died from the attack. Doreen St. Felix writes about how the killing of Nia Wilson is “a reflection of how this country values the lives of black women.”
In Glamour, Niema Jordan writes, “For a woman aware of the recent rash of gender-based attacks, the violence often associated with BART stations, and the overall racist climate of the nation, I received the news of this tragedy as yet another example of the constant attacks on black women and girls.”
“This is happening to young black girls and I’m a young black girl and I could stand up for them.”
Thirteen-year-old Aziya Roberts organized the #WeWalkForHer march in Chicago to raise awareness of missing black girls and women in her city.
Also in Chicago, girls in the Girl/Friends program run by A Long Walk Home hosted the event Visibility Project: Black Girls Take Over Douglas Park. Jenn M. Jackson writes about the “empowering party of the summer” in Teen Vogue, and interviews A Long Walk Home executive director Scheherazade Tillet. Tillet: “Our young people wanted to go in the streets for their own personal safety but also to advocate, because no one knew their story.”
Pregnant women in immigration detention are not receiving adequate medical care, which some women say has led to miscarriages while in detention. Women are “shackled around the stomach while being transported between facilities, and have been physically and psychologically mistreated.”
A new report from Center for American Progress: “American Indian and Alaska Native Maternal and Infant Mortality: Challenges and Opportunities.” The report finds that “official and ad hoc practices, including traditional Native concepts of community support, are playing a critical role in improving access to health-care services” – read a summary here.
New York City launched a new initiative to reduce maternal deaths and complications among women of color. And Utah and Idaho finally have legislation protecting nursing mothers who breastfeed in public, making public breastfeeding legal in all 50 states.
The Department of Justice rescinded seven guidances in July addressing juvenile justice, including “manuals for keeping teens separated from adults in custody and reducing disproportionate minority contact with police.”
And new leadership at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has announced the office is ending state obligations under Title II of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to collect and analyze data on disproportionate minority contact.
As a reminder, youth of color are overrepresented at every stage of the juvenile justice system. Girls of color represent 62% of all girls in residential placement despite making up 47% of girls up to age 18 in the United States. Non-hispanic black girls represent 15% of girls up to age 18 but are 35% of girls in residential placement.
Cherice Hopkins in Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: “Black girls [in DC] are arrested at a rate 30 times that of both white girls and boys. They are also most often pushed into the deepest end of the system — comprising 97 percent of girls newly committed to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services — even though they pose no threat to public safety.”
Disability Rights California has a new report reviewing Fresno County’s Juvenile Justice Campus. “The girls in B pod who were interviewed by the DRC/YLC team all reported that, typically, JCOs will empty the contents of a pepper spray can during a single incident. […] Youth reported that if an altercation continues, ‘anything goes’ and that JCOs will drag girls away by pulling on their hair.”
“These girls’ narratives are important to criminology because neither official data nor media accounts illuminate what drives such behavior.” Jeremiah Bourgeois reviews Judith Ryder’s book Girls and Violence: Tracing the Roots of Criminal Behavior, in which Ryder concludes that girls who have committed violent acts “primarily need consistent, psychologically attuned, and loving relationships.”
Young people are the experts on their own lives. “Young people can often tell us as a field what data cannot.”
A new agreement in Macon-Bibb County, Georgia between education and justice agencies went into effect August 1. The agreement encourages School Resource Officers to address low-level, nonviolent school-based offenses by referring youth to community resources instead of referring youth to court.
“Even with random fluctuations, Stanislaus County has consistently shown that LBQ/GNCT girls are overrepresented in custody.” A new report by Dr. Angela Irvine and Ceres Policy Research investigates probation data on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in Stanislaus County, California.
“Successfully reforming how systems can respond to status offenses without relying on law enforcement and the courts requires placing gender at the center of this work.” Read Vera Institute’s new report: Centering Gender in Status Offense Reform Efforts.
“House Bill 318, now headed to Gov. John Kasich for his signature, prohibits out-of-school suspensions or expulsions for pre-K to third-grade students who commit minor offenses, starting in the 2021-2022 school year. Violent offenses could still be handled via expulsion.”
An education department antidiscrimination guideline in Delaware intended to protect and support trans youth was rewritten in a way that may put youth in danger: “Along with the usual handwringing over bathroom and locker room access for trans students, the revised regulation includes a provision that would require school personnel to out trans students to their parents before taking action to recognize their rights, a move that, according to Rashbaum, could put students at risk of homelessness.”
In Ohio, lawmakers have introduced a bill with similarly troubling provisions – mandating that “any public entity that is caring for or supervising children must inform each of a child’s parents or guardians if that child displays any ‘symptoms of gender dysphoria or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex.’”
Ohio State University closed its campus office dedicated to services for survivors of sexual assault after a review found reports were mishandled; individuals who used the office ‘said they were told they wouldn’t receive support services if they weren’t ‘“deemed ‘credible,”’ didn’t demonstrate that they were ‘ready to heal,’ or wouldn’t ‘disclose the identity of the perpetrator.’”
“Children are not taught consent at school and administrators do not act lawfully or humanely when students — particularly girls of color — report sexual violence.” School officials in Brooklyn told a teenager to “move on with her life” after reporting that she was raped by a classmate.
A Chicago Tribune investigation into peer-on-peer abuse in schools details “nearly 40 cases in which students reported being sexually attacked in Chicago schools since 2008” citing lax supervision and school official responses that “sometimes cast doubt upon victims’ stories and subjected them to callous interrogations.”
A new study found that 1 in 4 teenage girls reported self-harm in the previous year – more than double the rate for boys.
Young Women’s Freedom Center is hiring a Development and Communication director and an administrative assistant
Campaign for Youth Justice is hiring a Communications Associate
The I Project in Chicago is seeking volunteers on August 10 to assist with a community needs assessment created by girls for the South Shore neighborhood
- Tiffany Hadish discusses the impact of being raped by a police cadet as a teenager
- Mari Copeny, aka Little Miss Flint, continues to advocate for clean waterin Flint, Michigan
- Missouri governor signs law banning marriage of 15-year-olds
- Photographs from participants in Girls for Gender Equity’s Urban Leaders Academy
- Survivors of dating violence in Ohio are now eligible for civil protection
- In Minnesota, a review of more than 1,000 sexual assault cases revealed that in nearly a quarter of the cases, police never assigned an investigator.
- Annita Lucchesi is creating a database of indigenous girls and young women who’ve gone missing in the U.S. and Canada
- A lawsuit claiming the state of California is violating students’ ‘constitutional right to literacy’ is moving to trial, while an appeal is being filed for a similar case in Detroit
- How many foster care students are there in the United States?
- The Leesburg Stockade Girls and the role of black youth in the Civil Rights Movement
- A growing number of grandparents are raising their grandkids as opioid epidemic continues
- Four black trans women and one black femme gay man have been killed in Florida since February
- The PACE Center for Girls in Florida is moving and expanding
- A New York hospital system is training staff to identify and support victims of human trafficking
- In Ohio, the Columbus Commission on Black Girls held its first meeting on July 19
- Remembering Jessica St. Louis
- Youth Summit: Resiliency in the Face of Trauma – Coalition for Juvenile Justice (Washington DC, August 1-3)
- National Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Family Law Conference – National Association of Counsel for Children (San Antonio TX, August 23-25)
- Gender, Sexuality, and the Juvenile Justice System: Promoting System Improvement Webinar – Coalition for Juvenile Justice (Online, August 28)
- Detention and Deportation System for Unaccompanied Minors Webinar – Immigrant Legal Resource Center (Online, August 28)
- Girls Across Funding Borders: Funding a Transnational Movement With and For Girls of Color – Grantmakers for Girls of Color (San Juan Puerto Rico, October 11)
- Standing Strong and Keeping Youth at the Center – Healthy Teen Network (San Diego CA, October 22-24)
“You never really see a space where black girls can unapologetically, like, exist. So to be able to be in a space where so many of us are able to exist — and that is powerful and radical by itself — and the fact that we’re claiming this space for Rekia [Boyd] and the missing and murdered black girls, it’s nice to not just hear all those stories and be triggered all the time, but to just celebrate our reclamation.”
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