Official Wants Harsher Penalties for Teen Gun Violence

Violent crimes continued to be committed by teenagers — and at least one official is calling for harsher penalties for those who use guns in the commission of these offenses.

We’re seeing serious robberies committed by kids who really aren’t fully mature in the way they think but they’re carrying guns which makes them very dangerous …

[King County, WA Prosecutor Dan] Satterberg is focusing on research that shows juvenile brains are not yet fully developed. He cites studies that show adolescents must rely heavily on emotional centers of the brain when making decisions.[Source: KCPQ-TV (Seattle)]

Satterberg suggests that penalties for teens who use guns to commit violent crimes should be harsher, in the hopes that stiffer penalties would make kids think twice. Satterberg has lobbied for such changes to Washington state laws, but been told the change would cost too much money.

Parental Control Needed to Ensure Youth Safety Online

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare – or one of them at least. Your child starts chatting with someone online and agrees to meet the person face-to-face, and discovers that the person isn’t a teenager. Task forces across the country set up “stings” aimed at catching adults who prey on young people by posing as teens online. But parents don’t have to wait for law enforcement to keep kids safe online.

“Keep teens out of online chatrooms. Interestingly, older teens are more at risk of being sexually exploited because their Internet use is often unsupervised, and the teens are more likely to talk about personal and sexual matters than a younger minor. Younger kids can face danger from online predators because the teens have a more trusting, unassuming nature; troubled teens looking for an understanding adult or emotionally vulnerable teen girls also are at risk.” [Source: The Clinton Herald]

Many parenting experts suggest that families have a centrally located computer – somewhere out in the open, where online chats can be observed. In addition, consider limiting, or eliminating, Internet access on your child’s phone. Set up rules regarding Internet use, and explain them fully to your kids. Explain why you’re doing it, and also what the consequences will be for broken rules.

Dutch Researchers Link Puberty, Sleep Problems, Alcohol Abuse

Teenagers who are just entering puberty often experience sleep disorders, such as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, being overtired in the daytime. Now a new study from University Nijmegen finds a link between early puberty, sleep problems and alcohol abuse. Some teenagers may be using alcohol in order to fall asleep.

Professor Carmen Van der Zwaluw studied 430 children ages 11 to 14 years old, and found that entering puberty was related to sleep problems and later bedtimes, which in turn correlate with experiments with alcohol.

The study appeared in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Should Obese Kids be Put in Foster Care?

Parents who allow their children to become obese and who don’t seek help for the problem are guilty of child neglect — therefore the government has the right to remove obese children from parental homes and to place them in foster care, according to recommendations in the British Medical Journal.

Child health specialists from England and Ireland contributed to the report. They pointed out that the government already removes children from homes where parents fail to get treatment for chronic diseases such as asthma and epilepsy. They also point out that two thirds of obese adults report being sexually or physically abused as children.

“Childhood obesity can be seen as a failure to adequately care for your children by failing to provide a healthy diet and sufficient activity, whether through direct neglect or more subtly through an inability to deny children the pleasures of energy dense, fast food and television viewing,” according to the report.