Police chiefs council: Youth curfews don’t curb crime

Posted by on June 13th, 2017

Wearing a backward baseball cap and a sparse goatee, Luis Mercado practiced dunking and dissing his friends on a crowded basketball court in Woodlawn Park Monday night.

It was shortly after 8 p.m., a time to savor in June when sticky air dissipates in a comfortable breeze. A guy wearing a doo-rag performed wheelies on the court, framed by burnt-out floodlights. Sisters from West Center City barreled down the hill ready to dribble. Woodlawn is “cleaner” than the park in their neighborhood, the older of the two explained.

Soon, all these kids could be homebound (or backyard-bound) on summer nights or face arrest. Disturbed by escalating violence, some Wilmington City leaders have proposed rolling back a citywide curfew for anyone under age 18 to 8 p.m. during summer months and 9 p.m. the rest of the year.

Violators, along with their parents and business establishments that cater to youth after-hours, could be fined up to $500 to $600 each.

If the new ordinance passes, Wilmington would be one of few cities in the country and the only one in Delaware to enforce an 8 p.m. curfew for all minors, according to data from the National Youth Rights Association, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that opposes youth curfews. New Orleans, Louisiana; Detroit, Michigan; and Columbia, South Carolina, all impose curfews beginning at 8 p.m., but limit enforcement to younger teens or in designated city districts. The city of Philadelphia has a 9 p.m. summer curfew for those under age 14.

Wilmington’s proposed changes are scheduled to be discussed by the city’s Education, Youth and Families Committee on Wednesday, June 14 at 5 p.m. The meeting will take place in the City Council committee room at the Louis L. Redding City/County Building at 800 N. French St.

City Council President Hanifa Shabazz, who introduced the proposal with Councilman Vash Turner earlier this month, said she hoped an earlier curfew and more rigorous enforcement would reduce the number of children victimized by violent crime.

“It definitely will lower the number of innocent bystander shootings,” she said.

But Mercado and other young people worry they are being targeted unfairly. Five of the nine juveniles shot so far this year in Wilmington were wounded before 8 p.m., according to a review of city shooting data. Among the victims was a 6-year-old boy, who was shot in the head last week while riding in a car with his mom.

An 8 p.m. check-in time is “way too early,” Mercado of Union Park grumbled this week.

If his parents don’t give him a curfew, why should the city? the 17-year-old said.

Other opponents argue that youth curfews infringe on civil liberties, drain police resources and encourage racial profiling. For decades, criminal justice researchers have reported that curfews don’t curb crime or truancy or make kids any safer. Instead, researchers stress the importance of youth enrichment programs and mentoring opportunities.
Young people congregate on Ferris Street at WoodlawnBuy Photo

Young people congregate on Ferris Street at Woodlawn Park in Wilmington before 9 p.m. Monday. (Photo: William Bretzger, The News Journal)

As recently as 2015, researchers at Purdue University and the University of Virginia tracked gun violence during curfew times in poor areas of Washington, D.C. Gunshot incidents actually increased during curfew hours, the researchers found.

Nationally, juvenile violent crime peaks in the after school hours on school days and between 7-9 p.m. when school is not in session, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics.

The most effective crime deterrent is increased police patrols, according to Jeffrey Horvath, executive director of the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council.

“People that are determined to commit crime are going to commit crime, even if that means violating a curfew,” said Horvath, a former police chief in Dover and Lewes. “I’ve never heard anything where a curfew has been a great success.”

Wilmington’s proposed ordinance cites “unacceptable levels of violence and delinquency,” with many incidents involving young people in recent years. Youth participating in any of the 11 locations of the city’s Safe Haven program would be exempt from the curfew, according to the draft ordinance. Young people would still be free to hang outside their house or their next-door neighbor’s house and go to public places while accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Curfew proponents say it’s just another tool in local law enforcement’s tool box, which, if used effectively, could deter troubled youth from pursuing a life of crime.

But by restricting youth movement and exempting city-sponsored programs but not other activities, such as rallies, Wilmington’s ordinance imposes “constitutional limits on children and their families,” according to Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware.

Moreover, if the city prohibits youth from engaging in peaceful protest after-hours, it could face a legal fight, said MacRae, who plans to raise her objections before the council but is taking a wait-and-see approach.

The ACLU has challenged youth curfews in other states with mixed results, she said. Youth curfews have been struck down for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, while other codes have been upheld, provided there are built-in exemptions for young people who work or participate in afterschool activities or rallies.

The National Youth Rights Association distributes “Protest the Curfew” stickers to young people who want to exercise their First Amendment rights and not risk police entanglement.
Lax enforcement

Wilmington’s current incarnation of a youth curfew dates to 1994, but the issue has been bandied around since at least 1919. Back then, The News Journal reported a proposal to ring a bell at 8:55 p.m. to warn children to start heading home.

Under current city code, unsupervised young people in Wilmington under age 18 can stay out until 10 p.m. on weekdays, or 9 p.m. if they are under age 13. The code also allows for later curfews on weekends — a midnight curfew on Fridays and Saturdays for older youth and a 10 p.m. weekend curfew for those under 13. Like other local municipalities, Wilmington grants exceptions for minors involved in emergency situations, running errands for their parents, or returning home from work or an official organized event.

The city curfew lifts at 6 a.m. but resumes during schools hours for school-age children.

Long associated with national emergencies and military occupations, youth curfews gained political traction during the 1990s as a way for elected officials to show they were tough on crime without “actually solving the problem,” according to Alex Koroknay-Palicz, a spokesman for the National Youth Rights Association. Young people are an easy target for “house arrest,” he added because they can’t vote.

Municipalities tend to ignore curfew laws until a high-profile crime involving youth compels police to increase enforcement for a short period. In effect, police engage in racial profiling in poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods, Koroknay-Palicz said, by stopping youth who look suspicious but haven’t committed a crime.

Shabazz said she is depending on Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracey to ensure youth are not improperly stopped and searched.

“He is ridding the department of any mindset of that nature,” she said. “He will ensure that’s not the way that it is implemented.”

Police records show that Wilmington’s curfew law has been sporadically enforced over the years to try to tamp down unrest. From 2010 to 2016, the number of young people and their parents charged with curfew violations decreased by more than two-thirds from 62 to 19.

In 2011, the city operated a “curfew center” at the Walnut Street YMCA, where arrested youth were detained while waiting for their parents to pick them up. The center offered resources to try to keep youth out of the criminal justice system, funded by a one-time state grant. City leaders touted the program’s success; only 10 of 200 youths who were issued first-time warnings received a second summons that year.

The center later closed due to lack of funding; Shabazz is now investigating how much money it would take to reopen it.

“We’re hoping the community does a lot of policing before the police department has to get involved…” she said. “The policing would be the last resort.”

Without a staffed facility and social services available, John Rago, Mayor Mike Purzycki’s deputy chief of staff for policy and communications, worried that police officers would be forced to babysit youth until their parents arrive, when they “should be on the streets doing their jobs.”

That hasn’t been a problem locally, according to several area police representatives.

The state Police Chiefs’ Council doesn’t track the number of Delaware cities and towns that impose youth curfews. A News Journal analysis found more than a half-dozen local municipalities from Bethany Beach to Elsmere with laws on the books. But, as in Wilmington, enforcement can be spotty.

The city of Dover, for instance, has issued no citations to youth curfew violators since passing its curfew five years ago, according to Dover Police Department records. Dover sets a curfew for those under age 17 from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., depending on the season and day of the week. Fines are $50 to $90, based on the number of previous offenses.

“We just don’t have a large amount of juveniles that are out on the streets outside those times,” Dover Police spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

At the same time, the number of juvenile arrests in Dover for theft, burglary, assault, robbery, rape and other serious offenses climbed to 302 last year.

Dover based much of its youth curfew language on the city of Milford, which passed its current ordinance in 1997. Since 2012, police there have invoked the curfew three times to justify stopping minors, according to department records. No one was arrested.

Milford Police Lt. Edward Huey said the number of stops could be higher, but some officers log stops based on suspicious activity, not on youth curfew infractions.

Despite not needing to enforce the curfew regularly, Milford Police Chief Kenneth Brown praised it as a “great tool in reducing crime.”

Before Milford’s ordinance was enacted, there were too many teenagers roaming the streets at all hours, he said. Since that time, parents help to keep their children off the streets and apartment complexes have enacted their own curfews.

It’s a different scenario in Wilmington, with seven times the population of Milford and an outsized murder rate.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah Jackson, who lives on Linden Street, said she wouldn’t mind giving up some of her privileges in exchange for a safe environment.

“They’re probably doing something sketchy,” she said of young people hanging out after 8 p.m.

Jackson was hanging out with her mother, Lisa, Monday night for basketball tryouts at the Boys and Girls Club on S. Union Street.

Lisa Jackson, a former New Castle County police officer, urged the city to enforce the youth curfew while officers are out on regular patrols.

“You have to enforce something to see if there’s a difference or not,” she said.

But with malls, movie theaters and now the city cracking down on loitering youth, northeast Wilmington mother Andrea Jackson worries there will be fewer outlets for kids to be kids.

“Where we live, the children don’t have enough things to do as is,” she said.

A few blocks away, on a court crammed with deflated basketballs and spirits, nine-year-old Janet Myree was enjoying an evening walk with her 16-year-old sister, who doubles as a chaperone.

“When it’s summertime, you want to be outside,” the little girl peeped. “Don’t make every kid suffer.”

The Delaware News Journal
June 13, 2017

Teens Push to Lower the Voting Age

Posted by on January 17th, 2017

Should 16- and 17-year-olds be able to vote?

That was a question San Francisco and Berkeley, California, residents considered as part of the 2016 general election.

And on Nov. 8, Alex Koroknay-Palicz was watching. He’s president of the National Youth Rights Association, a national nonprofit that advocates for the civil rights of young people.

Ultimately the measure in San Francisco was defeated. But in neighboring Berkeley, 16- and 17-year-olds were successful: They won the right to vote for local school board candidates.

“We are tremendously impressed, even though it didn’t pass,” Koroknay-Palicz said. He believes the effort, which would have affected only city elections, has a good chance in the future. The measure, which enjoyed the support of the U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the San Francisco Board of Education, received 48 percent of the vote.

“We were overjoyed with the [success of the] measure,” said Simelia Rogers, 16, a junior at Berkeley High School. She was one of a group of about a dozen students who began meeting in September 2015 to address issues such as racism and sexual assault in the school and community.

“We realize that a lot of problems … come back to who we elect to school board and how they handled them,” she said.

The youth led the campaign — with support from school board member Josh Daniels and Kad Smith, advisor to the YMCA Youth & Government’s Model Legislature & Court — to lower the voting age in school board elections by getting city of Berkeley voters to pass the measure.

The effort to lower the voting age in local elections has been a movement for about 15 years, Koroknay-Palicz said.

Many decisions are made that affect the daily lives of young people — particularly decisions around school — but young people have no say in them, he said.

“Elections offer the chance to see what teachers want, what parents want and what taxpayers want,” he said. But students are not asked, he said.

“We live in a democracy,” Koroknay-Palicz said. “That system only works if all the people who have an interest in society are represented.”

Oliver Sanghvi York, now 17 and a senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School, was one of two students who proposed in the fall of 2014 to lower the voting age in San Francisco. York took the idea to the San Francisco Youth Commission and then helped launch the youth-led campaign Yes on F // Vote16SF.

“For me, this is all about civic engagement and increasing civic participation over the long haul,” he said.

“Age 18 is not a good age for students to develop the lifelong habit of voting,” York said. However, at age 16, students are studying civics, American history and democracy in high school, he said.

“They are embedded in the community they’ve grown up in and know a lot about” it, he said.

anna-he-advocateIn contrast, said Brandon Klugman, coordinator of Vote16USA, a national campaign to lower the voting age, 18-year-olds are in transition into the workforce or into college and are in a less stable environment.

“We know voting is habitual,” he said.

“There’s no better way to make civics relevant than by inviting young people into the voting booth at a local level,” he said.

The San Francisco Chronicle, however, editorialized against the lower age. Voting is a privilege of adulthood, the editorial asserted.

“Young people must wait until the age of 21 to drink alcohol and, in California, smoke tobacco. They must wait until the age of 18 to serve their country. It makes no sense for San Francisco to send the message that voting is a responsibility any less serious than these are.”
Two cities in Maryland let 16-year-olds vote

The ballot measure in San Francisco was a first in a major U.S. city, Klugman said.

However, two cities in Maryland have already lowered the age to 16 in city elections through a city council vote. Takoma Park did so in 2013 and Hyattville in 2015. Other cities, such as San Francisco, are required to put the question to voters.

About a dozen states and the District of Columbia allow cities to lower the voting age for municipal elections, according to Generation Citizen, a nonprofit that sponsors Vote16USA.

“It’s a great way to increase youth voter turnout and engagement,” Klugman said.

Youth Today
January 17, 2017

Teens Push to Lower the Voting Age

Voters in 3rd Hampshire District support lowering drinking age for beer, wine

Posted by on November 9th, 2016

AMHERST — Voters in the Massachusetts House 3rd Hampshire District on Tuesday were supporting a non-binding ballot question favoring legislation that would lower the legal age for buying beer and wine to 19.

With 12 of 13 precincts counted, according to the Associated Press, those in favor of lowering the drinking age led those opposed, 8,483 votes to 8,173.

The question was considered only in the 3rd Hampshire District and was the only public policy question on any state ballot. The district includes Amherst, Pelham and one Granby precinct.

The question was initiated by Matthew Malone, a 48-year-old federal government actuary from Washington who has never lived in the district.

“I don’t consider myself to be an interloper because the only signatures that were certified (to get the measure on the ballot) where those of registered voters in Amherst and Pelham,” he said in a recent email explaining his initiative.

Malone was born in Haverhill and decided to test the proposal in Massachusetts because he still cares about the state and needed only 200 signatures to bring the question forward, he said.

The 3rd Hampshire District made sense, he said, because it is the home of state Senate President Stan Rosenberg, the University of Massachusetts and Amherst and Hampshire colleges.

“I did not want to try a municipal ballot question since the drinking age is set at the state level. I don’t have resources yet for a statewide ballot question,” he said.

Malone is a longtime member of the National Youth Rights Association and believes that the drinking age of 21 is age discrimination against legal adults.

“A person is legally an adult at age 18. At age 18 a person can legally enter into contracts, marry without their parents’ permission and serve in the United States military,” he wrote on 19todrink.org.

“If the 2016 question outcome is favorable, then I hope to put the same or somewhat similar question on the ballot in one or two other House districts in Massachusetts in 2018,” he said.

If the district measure is approved, he will look for funding for a statewide ballot question in 2020.

If it loses, he said he would look at other age-related issues such as the minimum age for renting a car or hotel room, the minimum age for online sports fantasy leagues such as DraftKings and curfews, he said.
November 10, 2016 – 06:08PM ET
Question – 5or6 – Drinking Age 3rdHampshre – Ballot Issue
Lower drinking age to 19
Massachusetts – 13 of 13 Precincts Reporting – 100%
Name Votes Vote %
Yes 8,483 51%
No 8,173 49%

November 9, 2016

Voters in Amherst, Granby, Pelham to consider allowing 19-year-olds to buy beer, wine

Posted by on November 4th, 2016

AMHERST — In the legislative district that will soon be represented by 22-year-old Solomon Goldstein-Rose, voters Tuesday are being asked whether they support legislation that would allow 19-year-olds to buy beer and wine.

It’s a nonbinding ballot question only in the 3rd Hampshire District and is the only public policy question on any ballot in the state. The district comprises Amherst, Pelham and part of Granby.

The question was initiated by Matthew Malone, a 48-year-old federal government actuary from Washington, D.C., who has never lived in the district.

In an email, he explained the initiative.

“I don’t consider myself to be an interloper because the only signatures that were certified (to get the measure on the ballot) where those of registered voters in Amherst and Pelham,” he said.

Malone was born in Haverhill and decided to test the proposal in Massachusetts because he still cares about the state and only needed 200 signatures to bring the question forward.

The 3rd Hampshire District made sense, he said, because it is the home of Senate President Stan Rosenberg and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Hampshire colleges.

“I did not want to try a municipal ballot question since the drinking age is set at the state level. I don’t have resources yet for a statewide ballot question,” he wrote.

Question 6 on ballots in the district reads, “Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that lowers the drinking age to 19 for wines and malt beverages and maintains the drinking age at 21 for all other alcoholic beverages?”

Goldstein-Rose, an Amherst Democrat running unopposed, said he cast his ballot early but did not vote on Question 6. “It’s weird to advise myself,” he said.

He thinks the question is curious, being proposed by a man who doesn’t live in the state. Although he doesn’t think the measure will pass, Goldstein-Rose said, “I’m a little intrigued. It’s not a crazy idea.”

Lowering the age might encourage younger people to drink only beer and wine rather than hard alcohol, and that could potentially reduce harm, Goldstein-Rose said. But he does not see the issue as a high priority for him or the Legislature any time soon.

Malone is a longtime member of the National Youth Rights Association and believes that the drinking age of 21 is age discrimination against legal adults.

“A person is legally an adult at age 18. At age 18 a person can legally enter into contracts, marry without their parents’ permission and serve in the United States military,” he wrote on 19todrink.org.

Some voters in Western Mass. will vote on whether to lower drinking age

Posted by on November 2nd, 2016

Should the drinking age be 19?

Voters in part of Hampshire County won’t just decide whether to legalize marijuana when they cast their ballots Tuesday: They’ll also vote on the drinking age.

Ballot Question No. 6 in Hampshire County’s Third District — Amherst, Pelham, and about half of Granby — asks voters whether their representative should vote for legislation that would lower the drinking age to 19 from 21.

“Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that lowers the drinking age to age 19 for wines and malt beverages and maintains the drinking age at 21 for all other alcoholic beverages?”

The question is nonbinding, so it won’t have a legal effect like the statewide referendums on charter schools, the confinement of animals, or marijuana use.

“It’s what is also sometimes known as an advisory question,” said Amherst Town Clerk Sandra Burgess. “What it’s supposed to do is send a message to their legislator. Nobody would be forced to do anything.”

Matthew Malone, a Haverhill native who lives in Washington, D.C., said he got the question on the ballot by gathering the 200 required signatures.

“It’s discriminatory against legal adults,” said Malone, who has worked with groups like the National Youth Rights Association and advocated for similar measures in Vermont in 2005. “I hope the people become more aware that it actually is age discrimination, just like [restrictions for] renting a car or staying in a hotel.”

Malone said he went to this district because it’s “very liberal” and there are a lot of college students in Amherst.

State Representative Ellen Story, who represents the district until January, said she thinks it’s a terrible idea.

“I voted yesterday and I voted ‘no,’ and I would encourage other people to vote ‘no,’ ” said Story. “I would doubt that anyone would support a bill like this. It’s not in the interest of public health.”

Story did not seek reelection.

Solomon Goldstein-Rose, a Democrat, is running unopposed for her seat. He said he has no position on the question.

“I’m interested to see what people vote on it,” said Goldstein-Rose, a 22-year-old Amherst native. He said he doesn’t plan to vote on the question because it’s supposed to advise him, but he said he doesn’t anticipate it will garner much support.

“I expect it will be defeated rather overwhelmingly,’’ he said.

Boston Globe
November 2, 2016

Measure Y1 could implement lower voting age for certain elections in Berkeley

Posted by on October 27th, 2016

Sixteen- and 17-year-olds may soon be allowed to vote in Berkeley, making the city one of just a few in the country to allow them to do so.

Measure Y1, placed on the ballot by Berkeley City Council, would allow individuals 16 and older to vote for the Berkeley Unified School District Board of Directors so long as they meet certain conditions prior to approval. In addition to Berkeley, many other states and cities have movements to allow 16-year-olds to vote, including San Francisco ballot measure Proposition F that proposes age 16 as the legal age to vote in local elections.

“I think that there is growing pressure to recognize the fact that young people ought to have a say in their future,” said Sandré Swanson, a former member of the California State Assembly. “I think we have to acknowledge the young people today, given the internet and the immediate access of information … are much more informed and much more qualified to exercise civic responsibility.”

Alex Koroknay-Palicz, president of the National Youth Rights Association, said lowering the voting age has been a priority of his organization since its founding in 1998. He said that 10 years ago, the organization worked on a campaign with Berkeley High School students to lower the voting age, but it did not pass.

“For a lot of people, when they first hear about lowering the voting age, it’s like a strange bizarre new thing they never heard about or thought about before,” Koroknay-Palicz said. “After they consider it and think about it, it makes a whole lot of sense.”

Defining what age is “mature enough” to vote is a big question, Koroknay-Palicz said. He added that with the numerous responsibilities a 16-year-old already can have, such as paying taxes and driving cars, young people should not be treated as second-class citizens.

The cities of Takoma Park and Hyattsville, Maryland, found that after lowering the voting age for local elections, voter turnout rates for 16- and 17-year-old residents was higher than that of the overall population, according to Koroknay-Palicz. He noted that once someone votes for the first time, they tend to continue voting throughout their life.

VIDEO: Should San Francisco Lower Its Voting Age?

Posted by on October 24th, 2016

They pay taxes. They have to abide by the same laws as everyone else. And many are old enough to work and get behind the wheel.

But for teens under 18, the right to vote is still out of reach.

And that’s not fair, say a number of youth rights groups, who for years have pushed to lower America’s voting age to 16. In a nation with notoriously low voter turnout — particularly among 18- to 24-year-olds — allowing more young people to vote, advocates claim, would boost civic participation and give students a voice in local public affairs.

And some local campaigns to lower the voting age in various cities around the country have started to gain traction, as have the broader efforts of national youth civics groups like Generation Citizen and the National Youth Rights Association.

This year, San Francisco supervisors approved Proposition F for the November 2016 ballot. The measure would lower the city’s voting age for local elections, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to vote for mayor and other city officials, as well as school board and citywide initiatives. It follows a multi-year organizing effort by Vote16 SF and the San Francisco Youth Commission. If the measure passes, San Francisco would become the first major city in the country to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds (effective for the next municipal election).

A similar initiative in Berkeley — Measure Y1 — would allow16- and 17-year-olds to vote, but only for school board members. There are also efforts to get similar measures up for a vote in states across the country.

Nationwide, only two municipalities — the Maryland cities of Hyattsville and Tacoma Park — have passed ordinances lowering their voting ages to 16 for local elections.

Although the voting age is still 18 in a majority of the world’s democracies, several nations including Austria, Argentina, Brazil, and Nicaragua have already lowered the voting age for national elections to 16.

Who Do Kids Want To Be President?

Posted by on October 18th, 2016

If you’re under 18, you still can’t vote (despite recent campaigns to change that) but America’s youth has spoken via Scholastic’s annual student vote campaign: If you could vote, youngsters, would you pick Hillary Clinton for president, or Donald Trump, or screw, it, why not Harambe?

Clinton took 52 percent of the votes from about 153,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, Trump only scored 35 percent. The remaining 13 percent of not-yet-actual-voters chose the write-in option, proving that kids today can be just as politically apathetic as adults are — if not more so. Of the remaining 20,000 mail-in and online ballots, Gary Johnson received 2 percent while Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein each received 1 percent. The rest were apparent acts of (either intentional or unassuming) trolling and anti-establishmentarianism for which America’s youth is becoming known — dare we forget 15-year-old Deez Nuts, who scored as much as 9 percent in some early state polls? Other write-ins including Mom, Kanye West, Spider-Man, bacon, with the late, great Harambe also scoring a mention in Scholastic’s press release.

In a statement from a representative of the National Youth Rights Association sent via Facebook message, the youth movement that focuses on lowering the voting age told Vocativ that the results reflect national polling trends, where Clinton is also taking the lead, regardless of seemingly silly write-ins.

“These types of polls for young people do have a flaw however, which is that the audience is well aware that their answer will not have any impact on the outcome of the election or even be taken seriously by analysts, as other polls are,” a National Youth Rights Association rep said. “Our guess is that if that weren’t the case, there would be less selection of what may be considered ‘joke’ candidates. However, even choosing one of these candidates can be interpreted as a protest against and dissatisfaction with the candidates put before them — something we are seeing very much of in this election — and therefore again reflecting national trends.”

While Scholastic was unable to provide the full scope of voting records from past years, disclosing that the Scholastic student vote has aligned with the actual results of every presidential election since 1940 with the exception of two (Dewey/Truman and Kennedy/Nixon), it was noted that the 13 percent proportion of write-ins “a larger percentage than in past presidential elections.”

Children in 2016 are more politically indecisive than ever

“One of the biggest reasons for that is that third party candidates are more popular this year than they’ve been in recent elections,” Stephanie Smith, editorial director for Scholastic Classroom Mgaazines, told Vocativ. “Neither of the main candidates are loved by many people. So I think more people don’t want to vote for either one of them and kids are hearing their parents talking about how they don’t like either one of them and therefore checking ‘other.’ Some kids checked other without even putting in a name.”

Children in Washington D.C. cast the highest percentage of votes for candidates other than the Democratic or Republican nominee. With 37 percent support for “other” candidates, more students there wanted anyone other than Trump or Clinton than they did either of the actual main candidates.
Trump took only 16 states in the Scholastic poll

Quotes taken from students who did choose either Clinton and Trump were fairly telling. While a sixth grader in Arizona said that they would vote for Clinton because she is “showing all women young or old you can do anything,” a Trump-supporting student of the same age from the same state said he or she would vote for Trump “because he says that he will make America great again.” The kids, they absorb the talking points.

At TIME For Kids, one of Scholastic’s main rivals in the children’s news media space, polls are still open, but so far, so lefty. Without a write-in option, Clinton currently commands roughly 69 percent of the votes, with Trump getting the 31 percent remainder.

Both polls reflect the results of other studies on America’s youth: kids just do not like Trump.

A term called “the Trump effect” has been coined as a result of multiple reports of Trump’s harsh rhetoric scaring children — particularly those of color and/or Muslim faith. It’s the cornerstone of a recent ad from the Clinton campaign called “Role Models,” which asks “what example will we set for [our children]?”

In addition to his abrasive personality, America’s youth are likely also drawing on their own politics when casting such votes. Where children base their political beliefs has been the subject of many studies and just as much contradiction. While Gallup has found that teens’ political views tend to line up with their parents’, another study from the American Sociological Review says just the opposite. And regardless of how America’s youth identifies while under their parents’ roof, yet another study from the British Journal of Political Science found that parents who consciously work impart their political perspectives on their children actually influence them to renounce such beliefs when they get older.

October 18, 2016

How Teens Are Lobbying Voters On Issues That Matter To Them

Posted by on October 18th, 2016

Imagine if there were an issue on the ballot that only affected you, but you were barred from voting on it. Like, for a ridiculous example, if there was a vote in your American history class to ban students from taking snaps of the 19th-century presidents in your textbook and putting a smiling poop emoji over their faces — and then your James Polk–worshiping teacher waited until you, the sole presidential snapper, were out of the room to pass it.

Now imagine that the vote was about something far more important, and you’ll have an idea of what Briggs Tople felt like when he learned that the South Dakota legislature was trying to lower the state’s minimum wage — but just for people under 18 years old. The minimum wage is on the ballot in five states this year, but this referendum is the only one that takes a step backward.

Some context: Back in 2014, South Dakota voters approved a ballot measure that raised the minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $8.50. Just one year later, the legislature passed a measure that pushed the minimum wage for minors back down to $7.50. Petitioners fought back, and the issue will be on the ballot again in November — but since the law only affects people under 18, who are below the legal voting age, its targets won’t get a say in whether it passes.

When the measure that raised the minimum wage passed two years ago, Tople was a happy Republican, volunteering with campaigns around his hometown of Aberdeen. He was also only 14. When he heard that legislators in the state capital were planning to roll back that advance in 2015, and only for people his age, he got angry, and started calling local Republicans. As far as he could see, the state representatives didn’t have a good answer for why the minimum wage should be lowered for teens.

Supporters of the lower minimum wage say they’re worried that an $8.50 law could prevent local businesses from hiring people under 18, and argue that a so-called “training wage” protects jobs for new workers. But Sylvia Allegretto, a research economist at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at University of California, Berkeley, just released a study that found raising the minimum wage had no effect on teenage job employment. “I don’t think there’s a really good reason to say you should take an entire group of workers and keep their wages below the lowest wage in the state,” Allegretto tells MTV News. The federal government also already has a time-limited youth minimum wage of $4.25, which can be used for the first 90 days of employment for workers under the age of 20 (though Allegretto says it’s unclear how many businesses or states actually use it).

Not all academics agree with Allegretto — as with every debate involving the minimum wage, there are plenty of people on both sides of the argument who say they have data that backs up their case. It is true that fewer teenagers are working these days than in past decades, but this is part of a broader, long-term trend. Researchers aren’t quite sure why it’s happening; it might be because more teenagers are now full-time students without time for a job, or that more young people are choosing to focus on internships or extracurricular activities instead of working. Even so, Allegretto notes, “Most minimum wage workers aren’t teens, but many teenagers are minimum wage workers.”

Yannet Lathrop at the National Employment Law Project believes that teenagers deserve the same minimum wage as all other workers. “They are buying their own clothes, or buying their own books for school, maybe buying their lunches,” she tells MTV News. “It’s not just to go get a sundae after the movie.”

Tople, now 16 and a registered Democrat, is currently joining with other students his age at Aberdeen Central High School to lobby local parents on the minimum wage ballot measure, since they can’t vote themselves. The same dynamic is in play in the debate over lowering the voting age to 16 — another battle that directly affects teens while denying them any official say. Two towns in Maryland let teenagers vote in local elections in 2014, but many other efforts have crashed and burned. One of the main arguments against lowering the voting age is the same one that was used during early efforts to lower the voting age to 18 before the ratification of the 26th Amendment in 1971. Decades earlier, in 1945, the New York Times wrote about a poll that showed 68 percent of school superintendents were “doubtful of wisdom of 18-year-olds.”

“A school official in Illinois was quoted as saying,” the paper reported, “that ‘it is unnecessary to saddle youths with this responsibility: they have enough to do as it is.’ Another superintendent commented that ‘the very reasons that make an 18-year-old a good soldier mentally keep him from being a conservative, sensible voter.’ Most of the educators stressed ‘immaturity and lack of expertise.’”

“There are a lot of stereotypes about teenagers in our culture,” Anne Sheridan at the National Youth Rights Association tells MTV News. “Not being engaged, being glued to their phones, just caring about very superficial things.”

Jessica Eng, a 17-year-old senior at Lowell High School in San Francisco, says she often hears similar arguments about students not being informed enough to vote when she is out canvassing for Proposition F, a ballot measure this November that would let teens vote in the city’s local and municipal elections. Some conversations make her hopeful, though. “I went into a house with a mother, and asked her, ‘Do you support this?’ and she called her children over and asked them. I thought that was so interesting,” Eng says, “that she was asking her children what they would do.”

Tople makes a similar argument when he’s out door-knocking for local Democratic candidates, sometimes bringing up the minimum wage measure. “When adults vote, they shouldn’t just care about things that directly affect them,” he says. “They should also care about what affects their kids.”

MTV News
October 18, 2016


Nonbinding referendum in Amherst, Pelham, Granby calls for lowering drinking age

Posted by on October 17th, 2016

Arguing that adults should be able to consume alcohol, a Washington, D.C., resident is responsible for a nonbinding referendum question on the Nov. 8 ballot in three towns that encourages the state Legislature to reduce the drinking age from 21 to 19.

“I’m for lowering it because I believe it’s age discrimination against adults,” said Matthew Malone, a former Massachusetts resident who previously worked with both the National Youth Rights Association, which supports reducing the drinking age, and the Choose Responsibility nonprofit, which has studied the effects of setting the drinking age at 21.

The question, which will be on the ballot in the 3rd Hampshire District comprising Amherst, Pelham and Precinct 1 in Granby, reads:

“Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that lowers the drinking age to age 19 for wines and malt beverages and maintains the drinking age at 21 for all other alcoholic beverages?”

Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who is expected to replace Ellen Story as the state representative for the district in January, said he is intrigued by the question, but he doesn’t expect filing such legislation to be a high priority of his.

Malone said part of his motivation in putting the question forward now is that states and communities are increasing the age for buying tobacco to 21, including in California, and that rights are being eroded for adults who can marry without parental consent at 18, and serve in the military at the same age.

The question was put on the ballot with 310 certified signatures, 307 of which were collected in Amherst in June and hand-delivered to the secretary of state’s satellite office in Springfield on July 26. The other three signatures were mailed in from Pelham residents.

Malone said he chose the 3rd Hampshire District because Senate President Stanley Rosenberg lives in Amherst and a large population of college students may be motivated to support the question, alongside the statewide ballot question that would allow recreational use of marijuana in Massachusetts.

While his inclination is to not support lowering the drinking age in isolation, Goldstein-Rose said the proposal may have merit in that it would make what most college students are already doing legal, and could make it safer by lessening their consumption of hard alcohol.

“It may encourage college students to use beer or wine rather than liquor,” Goldstein-Rose said.

Malone understands that the federal government can punish states by withholding transportation money if they set the drinking age lower than 21, but he believes there is an opportunity to seek a trial waiver from this law. Other sates, including Vermont, have pursued similar legislation, he said.

Malone adds that he finds it compelling that in Quebec, the nearest Canadian province, the drinking age has been 18 since 1972. Setting the age at 19 would ensure that most high school students would not be able to purchase and drink alcohol legally.

Daily Hampshire Gazette
October 17, 2016

The National Youth Rights Association is dedicated to defending the freedom, equality, and rights of all young people by challenging age discrimination and prejudice.