Mississippi Town Mulls Curfew for all Teens

A proposal introduced to the Jackson, Mississippi, City Council would enact a curfew for the city’s teenagers. The city’s Planning Commission recently approved the measure:

Under the proposed new law, children ages 17 and under would have to be home by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by midnight on Friday and Saturday. The new statute also makes it a crime for children ages 5-17 to loiter during school hours. [Source: Clarion Ledger]

Proponents of the measure believe it would help reduce violence committed against and by teenagers.

In an interesting twist, however, the teens won’t be the ones penalized if they break curfew. Instead, parents will be assessed fines. In addition, businesses that allow young people in their establishments after the curfew can also be fined.

Too Much TV can Raise Kids’ Blood Pressure

Watching television is harder on children’s health than are other sedentary activities such as playing video games or using computers.

The more television children watch, the higher their blood pressure — regardless of their weight — according to a new study from researchers in Spain and the United States.

More than 100 children (ages three to eight) wore meters that measured their activity levels.
The average child in the study was inactive for five hours a day, with 1.5 hours spent in front of television sets.
Children who watched 90 to 330 minutes a day had blood pressure readings five to seven points higher than those of children who watched less than 30 minutes of television a day.

“These results show that sedentary behavior and more specifically television viewing is related to blood pressure and independent of body fat or obesity level,” said Dr. Joey Eisenmann of Michigan State University, a co-author of the study.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two do not watch television at all, and that older children should limit their TV viewing to no more than two hours a day.

The study appeared in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Circus Helps Homeless Youth

Once upon a time, youth in crisis dreamed of running away to join the circus. Today, thanks to an innovative program and a dedicated instructor, the circus is coming to the rescue of homeless youth.

Years ago, after training and performing as an aerialist around the world, Jenn Cohen, now 34, started coaching at-risk students in San Francisco.

That role inspired her to return to school to earn her master’s degree in social work — “always with the idea of bringing it back to circus.” The Circus Project started as her master’s thesis.

In 2008, The Circus Project opened its doors in Portland. Since then, more than 200 people have tried the circus life on for size.

A large part of the project’s mission remains instilling confidence in at-risk youth from 12 to 24 who stream in from partner organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys & Girls Club, or after hearing Cohen speak at their hangouts.

“I owe a big part of who I am to The Circus Project,” one participant said. “Before I came here I had just turned 21. I was either going out or drinking at home all the time. It was a really unstable lifestyle. Now I take much better care of my body.”

Peer Jury Program Hits 10-Year Milestone

In December 2010, an innovative effort to help troubled youth in Downers Grove, Illinois, celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Brian Slodysko of the TribLocal newspaper reported on the successes of the Downers Grove Peer Jury system:

The concept is simple: if a juvenile offender pleads guilty to committing a crime – ranging anywhere in severity from possession of alcohol to retail theft and even burglary – they are given the option of facing a jury of their peers who will then assess punishment.

“Research shows peers actually respect their peers in terms of their opinions and being held accountable,” said Lori Wrzesinski, the director of youth services for Downers Grove Township. “It basically is about what we can do to hold you accountable to ensure that you don’t repeat it.”

Lori Rhoades, a recent college grad and former Downers Grove North student said her time serving on a peer jury made her realize everybody makes mistakes.

“It changes perspective … which is how it should be, breaking down generalizations made about teens,” Rhoades said. “We tend to think certain types of people will misbehave. All kinds of people can make mistakes and learn from that and regain themselves.”