Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Lower Drinking Age

Over the last few weeks, the legal drinking age has taken center stage because over 100 college professors signed a letter advocating the change in the legal drinking age from 21 to 18 years.

Lowering the legal drinking age in the U.S. to 18 makes sense for a lot of reasons. We've all heard the argument that a young person can fight and die for our country but not legally drink a beer. And the dangers of binge drinking in underground frat parties are well known.

While the change might seem focused on college students, it would impact younger youths as well. Making the drinking age 18 would legally put alcohol in the hands of high school seniors. High schools are already rampant with drinking and drugs and legalizing alcohol for seniors would certainly make alcohol more readily available. Seniors are the cool kids -- the sports captains, the athletic stars.

This might sound dangerous, but maybe it would help youths learn to drink responsibly. If young people get drunk at home, parents could more actively get involved and know what is going on. Drinking might become less of a milestone of adulthood and become more of a responsibility for a mature individual. If the drinking age were 18, a high school senior could have a beer with mom or dad while watching football or a glass of wine with mom or dad while having dinner.

This would also take some of the pressures off the start of college. The first taste of freedom for young adults would not also come with the first taste of alcohol.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to Blogging!

Dear readers:

I just completed my one-year stint working for the federal judiciary. I had a wonderful time and I gained crucial experience.

Now that I am no longer working for the federal judiciary I am free to express my views once again. Please check back often for updates and comments on children's rights and laws.

My best,

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Unfortunate Break from Posting

Dear Readers --

Unfortunately, I will not be able to post on my blog for the next year due to the nature of my current employment.

I work for the federal judiciary, and as such I should not continue to express political views or to engage in legal discussions that could involve issues from a case before the Court.

I will return to this blog just as soon as I can -- and I appreciate you sticking with me.

Thanks for understanding,

Friday, August 03, 2007

Increased Spending on Low-Income Childrens' Health Care

I am very pleased to see that the Senate has passed "veto-proof" legislation to increase/renew the spending on the State Children's Health Insurance Program, set to end September 30th. This legislation would help to provide health insurance for children in families that fall above the Medicare levels, but below the level to be able to afford private health insurance.

The criticism of this bill is that it moves health insurance closer to a government-run health care scheme. (Read about it on If this were the case and this provided health care for these under-served youths, is this a problem? If these kids' parents cannot afford private health insurance, how else would these children earn health insurance?

As J E Gucken points out in her blog (Politics For Every Man), this legislation was not a slam-dunk in the House of Representatives. In fact, 205 Republicans in the House voted against increasing the spending on Children's Health Care.

How about we leave health care for youths out of the political arena and recognize that it is a good idea to ensure that this group of youths has adequate coverage?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Prescription Drug Abuse Poses Danger for Youths

Alcohol and marijuana are the traditional intoxicants of choice for young people. Experts are reporting that another dangerous group of drugs, prescription drugs, are becoming increasingly common amongst youths. Read about this.

This past week, Al Gore III was arrested with a smattering of prescription drugs and some marijuana in his possession. Prescription drugs are apparently easy to get a hold of since many youths and their parents are prescribed these drugs legally. Often people don't finish their prescriptions and that leaves the door open for resale and abuse.

Hopefully anti-drug campaigns will recognize this major shift and will respond accordingly. The article cited above indicates that youths often don't deem prescription drugs as dangerous as alcohol and marijuana because prescriptions are provided by doctors. Abuse of these prescription drugs -- even by someone for whom the prescription is proscribed -- is very dangerous. The article also indicate that many youths do not know what pills they are taking. This can lead to the combination of incompatible drugs.

I hope that schools and other government organizations can shift their message to ensure that youths know the dangers they face if they abuse prescription drugs. Likewise I hope that parents recognize the dangers their medicine cabinets pose.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Hampshire Repeals Parental Notification Law for Minor Abortion

New Hampshire has repealed its law requiring that parents be notified before a pregnant teen can have an abortion.

Such parental notification or parental consent laws have been deemed Constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court only if they include a "judicial override." This override would enable mature teens or teens for whom it would be in their best interest to obtain the requisite consent from the judge to have an abortion without notifying their parents. (See Bellotti v. Baird.)

Teen abortion is a particularly complex issue because it concerns more than just child advocacy. One could be a child advocate and either pro-choice or anti-abortion. Even further complicating the issue is that one could be pro-choice and still feel that minors should have to notify their parents.

The New Hampshire law was not actually implemented because of earlier court challenges. (Read article.) Reportedly, the New Hampshire law did not adequately provide for protection of the minor's health.

I hope that amidst the competing political outlooks, religious sentiments, and moral compulsions the New Hampshire legislators can keep the key issue in sight. Hopefully this can remain an issue about the health and well-being of teens, and not become just another political battlefield.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

An Ounce of Responsibility for Children

Understandably many schools ban aggressive or threatening touching. This can include gang handshakes and un-welcomed hugs. Kilmer Middle School (outside of Washington DC) has gone so far as to ban ALL physical contact between students. This includes high-fives and sitting with an arm around a friend's shoulder. (Read about it.)

While it might sound ridiculous that a student could get into trouble for minor inoffensive touching, Kilmer Middle School officials want to control the student body with this prohibition. The school cites overcrowding as a major reason for wanting this restriction.

I thought that schools were supposed to be the staging ground for the rest of our lives as citizens. That being the case, it seems outlandish that students should not be able to have any minor, routine, physical contact with each other. How will these students learn to draw the line between commonly accepted physical contact (a handshake, high-five, or perhaps in some instances a kiss on the cheek) and inappropriate contact? How will these students learn to communicate their own physical boundaries if they are never faced with others who are "allowed" to even touch them? How will these students seek comfort for the majority of their time if they're in school but they're unable to ask for a hug from a dear friend?

It is understandable and laudable that a school would endeavor to stop offensive, coercive, or dangerous touching. It is not understandable that a school would prohibit all touching. This prohibition looks more like a school shirking away from its responsibility to teach students more than just the content of textbooks -- why can't this school teach its students about acceptable touching?

If students are supposed to grow up and become productive, healthy, normal citizens, how can they learn to interact with individuals in the "real world" if they are taught that all physical contact is bad?