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NYRA Freedom Volume 5, Issue 3

Written by NYRA Mar 29, 2011

NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Volume 5, Issue 3

March 12, 2005

Contents:

Introduction
Fundraising Contests Underway
NYRA-Vermont Drinking Age Campaign
Activists Fight Gulag Schools
Supreme Court Declares Juvenile Death Penalty Unconstitutional
The West Wing Addresses Lowering Voting Age
NYRA Forums Now Have Arcade
News From the Web
Conclusion

Introduction

As you can see from the contents, this is longer than most issues of NYRA Freedom we’ve had in the recent past. An influx of new, active members, as well as out side forces, are making exciting things happen. NYRA continues to be a major presence in the media, and our forums continue to serve as a hub for the youth rights movement. Through fundraising and chapter development, NYRA’s internal info structure is growing as it has never grown before.

Fundraising Contest Underway

In an effort to raise money and encourage grass-roots activism, the National Youth Rights Association is sponsoring its first ever fundraising contest. The contest will run from now until June 1st. The individual who raises the most money in that time will receive a prize worth $100, and two runners up will be awarded $50 and $25 respectively. More information about these prizes will come later. In addition, every NYRA member who raises over $10 will receive a NYRA button of their choosing, and every NYRA member who raises over $50 may pick out a NYRA t-shirt. If you raise $300, you will receive a signed copy of “Somebodies and Nobodies”, the book that inspired Senator John Vasconcellos to introduce the bill to lower the voting age. Individuals who raise over $500 will receive a signed copy of the Mike Males classic “Framing Youth.”

There is also a competition between the various NYRA chapters. If you are affiliated with a chapter, the money you raise will count toward both your own total and the total of the chapter with which you are affiliated. The winning chapter will be awarded an ample amount of flyers, T shirts, and buttons, up to a $100 value. Send all cash and checks to NYRA – P.O. Box 5882 N.W. – Washington, D.C. – 20016. Be sure to include your name, address, e-mail, and the chapter you are affiliated with. Donations are also encouraged to be made via credit card online at http://www.youthrights.org/donate.shtml

NYRA-Vermont Drinking Age Campaign

NYRA is gearing up for one of the most involved, and committed campaigns of its short life, a campaign to lower the drinking age in Vermont.

NYRA Vermont, one of NYRA’s newest and most active chapters, is heavily involved with a growing movement to lower Vermont’s drinking age to eighteen. A bill to lower the drinking age has been sponsored by Vermont Rep. Richard Marron, and has a considerable amount of bipartisan support. Supporters of H-139 cite the many eighteen year olds in the Armed Services and the rise in binge drinking that has resulted from the minimum legal drinking age as reasons to support lowering it. While many law makers think lowering the drinking age is a good idea, some are reluctant to support the bill for fear of losing federal highway funds. Since Vermont Governor James Douglas is in favor of lowering the drinking age, this bill represents the best chance at a lower drinking age that we have seen in quite a while. Even if it does not pass, the bill will create a national dialogue and force people to reassess their attitudes about young people.

NYRA-Vermont plans to visit every college in the state, to distribute literature, recruit members, and rally support for H-139. Many youth rights activists from out of state will be visiting Vermont, and NYRA President Alex Koroknay-Palicz is already scheduled to speak at two area high schools. From March 28th till April 10th, over half a dozen NYRA members will be in Vermont working on this full time. NYRA feels that their efforts could be enough to push the bill through. More activists are needed to travel to Vermont to make this happen. If you are available sometime between March 28th and April 10th, or would like to donate money to support the campaign, please contact the Vermont chapter: http://vt.youthrights.org/main/contact.htm

Activists Fight Gulag Schools

The behavior modification industry is a growing epidemic in this country. All too often, young people, having been convicted of no crime, are sent by their parents to abusive institutions in the hope of modifying their behavior. The World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools is perhaps the greatest purveyor of this disturbing oppression. While campaign contributions have protected WWASPS thus far, there is a movement to shut down their affiliates, and it has gained considerable momentum in the past month. Isabelle Zehnder of http://www.kidsincaptivity.com/ has dedicated herself to taking action against these gulag schools. With the help of The Emancipation Project’s Tom Coleman, and four former WWASPS employees, Isabelle wrote a comprehensive report detailing the abuse and neglect prevalent at Majestic Ranch, a WWASPS affiliate in Utah. The report is based on her travels to Utah, correspondence with county officials, and testimony from former Majestic Ranch employees, including Karleen Farnsworth, a member of the NYRA Forums. Isabelle Zehnder’s report is some of the most damming evidence amassed regarding the human rights violations at Majestic Ranch.

A recent investigation by local authorities failed to do what Zehnder and her associates were able to do on their own time without government funding. This is a testament to the well funded lobbying efforts of the behavior modification industry. Zehnder and Coleman held a press conference at the Capitol building in Salt Lake City. The press conference was an overwhelming success, attracting many major media outlets. Articles about Majestic Ranch and Isabelle’s report are linked in the “news from the web” section.

In an effort led by Senator Thomas V. Hatch, the Utah State Legislature merged the therapeutic school licensing requirements found in SB 176 in to SB 107. If the Governor signs this in to law, Majestic Ranch and other gulags will be licensed by the state and subject to inspections. All NYRA members are encouraged to write Governor Jon Huntsman Jr and request that he take a stand against the behavior modification industry. Send letters to Utah Governor’s Office, Utah State Capitol Complex, East Office Building, Suite E220, PO Box 142220, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220.

Supreme Court Declares Juvenile Death Penalty Unconstitutional

In a 5-4 decision handed down yesterday, the US Supreme Court ended the death penalty for people under 18. NYRA members are encouraged to read the full decision of this case, Roper vs. Simmons. (http://www.youthrights.net/court/ropervsimmons.pdf) While good for ending the sick hypocrisy involved in applying the heftiest adult penalty on minors with few adult rights, this case has set precedent with long term negative consequences for youth rights. The majority opinion was written by Justice Kennedy, in it he makes three chief points that seek to under cut the rationality and competency of youth. Justice Kennedy states that, “First, as any parent knows and as the scientific and sociological studies respondent and his amici cite tend to confirm, ‘[a] lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility are found in youth more often than in adults and are more understandable among the young. These qualities often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions.'” He then goes on to assert “juveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure.” and thirdly maintains the personality and character of youth is not yet fully developed. It is likely these assertions will come up again in future cases deciding the rights of youth, and thus NYRA looks at this case warily. A longer youth rights perspective can be read here. (http://www.oneandfour.org/archives/2005/03/supreme_court_s.html) However one weighs the costs vs. benefits of this case, it is an important case in youth rights history.

The West Wing Addresses Lowering Voting Age

NBC’s highly popular and Emmy winning weekly political drama, The West Wing covered in depth the issue of lowering the voting age in tonight’s episode. A class of middle school students were touring the White House and get engaged in a discussion with a high level advisor to the President about lowering the voting age. The students make a very articulate and credible argument in favor of lowering the voting age and in the end win over the staffer. The staffer gets one of the students into the President’s press conference, and he asks the President about lowering the voting age. The President, played by Martin Sheen, responds with “Allowing children to vote is…worthy of consideration.” It is a fantastic victory for youth rights to even have this issue mentioned on such a popular show as The West Wing, but the victory is more outstanding considering the very good job the show did in advocating for lowering the voting age, and in the end, the approval of the President and a high ranking White House staffer. Not only were these arguments made, but these arguments came directly from NYRA. Many lines in the show were directly quoted from NYRA’s Top Ten Reasons to Lower the Voting Age (http://www.youthrights.org/vote10.shtml) document. Put in the mouths of the students, many of NYRA’s best arguments were articulated beautifully on the TV show, and millions of people listened to them and for the first time, considered them. A transcription (http://www.youthrights.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2900) of much of the show has been made and can be read in the NYRA Forums.

NYRA Forums Now Have Arcade

NYRA’s web forums (http://www.youthrights.org/forums) have long been a place of both important discussion, and a place of fun. They now have an arcade with a variety of entertaining games such as Asteroids, Snake, Tetris, Flash Poker and many more. The arcade has already brought in new members, and helped break the record for registered users on the forums in one day. The arcade is available only to members with more than three hundred posts, so be sure to become a regular user in the forums.

News From the Web

Should the Drinking Age be Lowered? (Teen Vouge Article Featuring NYRA)

(http://www.youthrights.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2882&page=1)

Majestic Ranch Related Articles

(http://www.youthrights.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2781)

Vermont Drinking Age Articles

(http://www.youthrights.org/forums/showthread.php?t=2684)

Students strike in Israel, protesting lack of voice in school reform plan

(http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/546666.html)

Texas Students Boycott No Child Left Behind

(http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/mcherald/2005/02/25/news/nation/10989463.htm)

Supreme Court Strikes Down Death Penalty for Youth

(http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/editorial/outlook/3069766)

Conclusion

The past two or three months have been very good ones for youth rights. Right now a number of things are waiting to determine the course of the youth rights movement. If the drinking age bill in Vermont is successful, if the government finally fulfills its responsibility to address the human rights atrocities committed by WWASPS, and NYRA continues to grow financially, we could see youth rights at the center of the political discourse in America.

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