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On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” Three separate cases were consolidated for argument before the Court on October 8, 2019. Eight  months later, the court issued its decision ruling that an individual could not be fired or discriminated against in the workplace for merely being gay or transgender. In other words, the prohibition against sex discrimination in the 1964 Civil Rights Act covers sexuality and gender identity. This decision applies to teenagers as well as adults. In the first…
March 27, 2020 While millions of K-12 students are now shut-ins until the coronavirus ebbs, new challenges surface for kids, parents and educators doing their work online. The opportunity for cyberbullying is great, particularly for those not used to online learning. Professor Sameer Hinduja* of Florida Atlantic University has written a thoughtful and informative article with suggestions to educators about monitoring the students they interact with to protect them from cyberbullying. This includes staying in touch with students, offering comfort and encouraging them to report any  “problematic or abusive content.” Tips to parents include allowing ongoing social contact by Skyping…
Many of our readers find themselves at home while school is out during the current spread of the coronavirus. Since the end of the school year is near, you may not return until next fall. In the meantime, states are attempting to address the spread of the virus by restricting movement and crowd size, and ordering stay-at-home policies. We are in this together with at least 150 other countries. Our welfare depends on following the advice of medical and public health officials. As of this writing, the United States has over 29,000 cases of the virus, and 376 deaths. The…
February 25, 2020 [embedded content] A new challenge that’s gone viral on certain social platforms may lead to serious injuries or even death. Doctors warn against anyone, including teens who are filming the trick to post online, about the possible consequences. Referred to as the “Skull Breaker Challenge,” it calls for three people to stand next to each other. The two on the outside jump up first. Then the middle person is told to jump up next. When he or she does, the two on the outside trip the middle person by kicking their legs out from under them. There…
January 10, 2020 That’s the penalty in Vermont proposed in a bill introduced in the state legislature in January, 2020. State Senator John Rodgers quoted statistics showing cellphones as one of the leading causes of teen deaths. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the use of cellphones are involved in 1.6 million car crashed each year, causing a half million injuries and 6,000 deaths. If passed, the penalty includes incarceration up to one year, and/or a $1,000 fine for anyone under 21 caught with a cellphone. The bill also stated that “young people frequently use cellphones to bully and…
January 10, 2020 That’s the penalty in Vermont proposed in a bill introduced in the state legislature in January, 2020. State Senator John Rodgers quoted statistics showing cell phones as one of the leading causes of teen deaths. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the use of cell phones are involved in 1.6 million car crashes each year, causing a half million injuries and 6,000 deaths. If passed, the penalty for possessing a cell phone includes incarceration up to one year, and/or a $1,000 fine for anyone under 21 caught with a cell phone. The bill also states that…
In the November, 2018 elections across America, three 19 year-old students were on their state’s ballot and won. They campaigned on a variety of issues and succeeded regardless of their youth. Kalan Haywood, a Democrat, was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly. He began his political career at 13 when he collected signatures and posted signs for a local politician. He is now a college sophomore studying business. His interests as a lawmaker include education, voter registration, public safety and engaging youth in civic affairs. Kalan commented about his run for office that “Being young is going to play well…
It took the state of Arizona ten years and multiple traffic deaths to come to its senses regarding texting while driving (TWD). A new law was signed by the governor in April, 2019 banning all hand-held devices while driving. A violation carries fines between $75 and $250. If injury or death occurs as a result of TWD, the driver may be subject to criminal prosecution and suspension of their driver’s license. Exceptions to the law include stops at red lights and railroad crossings, and calls for emergency help, but not when stopped behind a school bus or at a stop sign.…
April 19, 2019 These were the words of 11-year-old Naomi Wadler of Alexandria, Virginia. You may remember this amazing, articulate fifth-grader from the March For Our Lives event in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2018. She spoke eloquently about violence against black girls and women. This self-described political activist was a guest on the Ellen Show on April 4, 2018 when she told the story of an encounter while in a restaurant with her family. A server recognized her and asked for her autograph. Explaining she didn’t have a signature since she wasn’t taught cursive in school, she printed her…
Another state has criminalized online bullying of a minor (a victim under age 18). The West Virginia legislature passed House Bill 2655 in March, 2018 making an act of cyberbullying a minor a crime punishable by jail time. The law bans online harassment, threats, and intimidation of anyone under 18. Anyone convicted of cyberbullying a minor faces a $500 dollar fine and up to one year in jail.* A bullycide three years ago in Maryland prompted recent legislation in West Virginia. 15 year-old Grace McComas committed suicide after she endured a long stretch of cyberbullying. Her family helped her document these…
How many of you, when confronted by a police officer, would talk back or question the officer? How many 12-year-old kids know enough about the First Amendment to stand up to and attempt to correct a cop? We think very few of us would act so bravely, especially when threatened with jail for speaking up. Hilde Kate Lysiak is the exception. A 12-year-old kid reporter from Pennsylvania has learned the ropes from her father, a journalist. Hilde is the editor of the Orange Street News and has been covering local issues since she was eight. She is, in fact, an…
February 7, 2019 Another word of caution when posting or posing for photos. They have a way of catching up with you. When Ralph Northam was in medical school in 1984, he attended a party and allegedly went disguised either as a member of the Ku Klux Klan or a person in blackface. The photo with both individuals appeared on his page in the yearbook and somehow surfaced in 2019 to his great embarrassment. Even thirty-five years doesn’t erase an act of bad judgment from decades ago. At first, Northam, now governor of Virginia admitted his part in the incident.…
January 26, 2019 Michigan defines cyberbullying as posting a message or statement onto a public media forum with the intent to mislead, damage, intimidate, frighten or harass a person to cause emotional distress, or to cause the person to be harmed or harm themselves (Public Act 457). If convicted of cyberbullying, it is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to one year in jail, or a fine up to $1,000. The judge assigned to your case decides the appropriate penalty. If someone dies due to cyberbullying, the bully could be charged and, if found guilty, be fined or sent…
December 17, 2018 G.A.Q.L. was a teenager in Florida when he was involved in a car crash, killing one of his passengers. The police searched the car and found a cell-phone that belonged to the driver. Although they had a warrant for the iPhone 7, the driver refused to give them his password to search its contents or the password for his iTunes account. He also tested .086 blood alcohol content after the crash, and another passenger admitted to the police that she and the driver had been drinking that day and had communicated by phone. Consequently, the police wanted…
You may remember Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for promoting education for girls. She survived and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Malala commented that “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” This applies to the Stoneman Douglas High School students who seized the moment after a school shooting in February, 2018 at their school in Parkland, Florida. Student activists organized the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. that saw close to 800,000 people in attendance. Similar marches occurred across…