The United States leads the developed world in the number and percentage of children it locks up. A large number – more than 90,000 in each of the past five years, and some as young as at age 13 – are held in adult jails and prisons, where they are often isolated from the other prisoners for their own protection. They don’t fare much better in many state juvenile facilities, where isolation practices, some deemed excessive by the Department of Justice, are widely reported.
Solitary confinement – being held in isolation for 22-24 hours a day, day in and day out – can be harmful even for adults. But the potential damage to children, who do not have the maturity and resilience of an adult and are at a particularly vulnerable, formative stage of life, is much greater.
“Kids who had been in solitary told me how they lost control. They described fits of rage, anxiety attacks, depression. They told me about being denied adequate exercise, books and education, family visits. “The only thing left to do is go crazy – just sit and talk to the walls,” a youth confined in Florida told me. “Screaming, throwing stuff around – I feel like I am alone, like no one cares about me. Sometimes I feel like, why am I even living?” More than a few spoke in candid detail about trying to kill themselves. In fact, more than half of all suicides in juvenile facilities occurred when children were in isolation.”
- Ian Kysel, Human Rights Watch fellow. Read more here.
Photo: A cell at the Pinellas County jail, an adult facility where young people are held in solitary confinement. One girl interviewed for the report said she spent four months in isolation there. © 2008 AP Photo/Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
“Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards,” LaPierre said. “We care about our president, so we protect him with armed secret service agents.” Yet when it comes to our children, “we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of the world know it and exploit it.”
By placing children in schools in the same category as banks and powerful politicians LaPierre and the NRA either willfully obscure essential and obvious differences or demonstrate unbelievable ignorance.
Banks and powerful politicians are not the same as children in schools. There are good reasons why the former are targets while children are not: banks and political leaders are sites of power and by definition they affect, often through coercion, the lives of a great many people.
Suggesting children in schools are equivalent to banks and politicians obscures that their very innocence and vulnerability is their ‘power,’ if an equivalence is needed. This innocence is a big reason we love our children so much; it is also why we often look backward from our positions as adults with a lingering feeling that if we were able to carry this openness to life a little further into adulthood the world would be a better place.
In this respect the sentiments of LaPierre and the NRA do a great dis-service to children, to what is wonderful about them and what they can teach us adults.
The YouTube caption:
Since 2004, up to 884 innocent civilians, including at least 176 children, have died from US drone strikes in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. A new report from the Stanford and New York University law schools finds drone use has caused widespread post-tramatic stress disorder and an overall breakdown of functional society in North Waziristan. In addition, the report finds the use of a “double tap” procedure, in which a drone strikes once and strikes again not long after, has led to deaths of rescuers and medical professionals. Many interviewees told the researchers they didn’t know what America was before drones. Now what they know of America is drones, death and terror.
Let’s Raise a (Nature) Revolution in Our Kids
The statistics on the dwindling time kids spend outdoors these days is alarming. On average, children spend 50% less time outdoors than they did 20 years ago. Outdoor time is being replaced by more ‘screen time’ at younger ages. At the same time, and not coincidentally, we see rising rates of health concerns in our youth such as obesity, ADHD and depression. The rates of each of these conditions have been shown to be lower, however, in kids who play outside. Similar to adults, exposure to nature lowers stress in children and increases their learning potential. Plus, kids who participate in outdoor, nature-based activities at a young age are more likely to develop a positive attitude about the environment. Read more in Sylvia Fallon’s blog.
King said in an interview that this photograph was taken as he tried to explain to his daughter Yolanda why she could not go to Funtown, a whites-only amusement park in Atlanta. King claims to have been tongue-tied when speaking to her. “One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky.”
From Israel’s ‘national suicide’ by Mark LeVine
Simply put, the threat of a Palestinian “demographic bomb”, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has called it, is little more than a contrivance to justify the further exclusion of Palestinians from full citizenship rights within Israel.
But accurate or not, the average Jewish Israeli is likely not spending much time parsing the logic or statistical foundations of the High Court’s decision - because they understand the deeper meaning of the argument underlying the decision’s title: to extend full human rights to Palestinians will lead inevitably to the “national” - that is, political - suicide of Israel as a Jewish state.
Because to recognise that Jews and Palestinians can become one in the most intimate way possible - through love, sex and children - is to open Israeli Jews to the possibility that there is nothing essential that separates them from Palestinians, that as human beings with deep roots in this land, Palestinians have the same human rights as Israeli (or diaspora) Jews.