NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229
Volume 8, Issue 4
May 1, 2008
Editors: Lexi Johnson and Justin Graham

Table of Contents

– Introduction
– Abuse at Gulag Facilities Exposed at Congressional Hearing
– New York Politicians Push for Teen Representation
– New U.S. Congresswoman Supports Lower Voting Age
– NYRA Secretary Creating New Chapter in Maryland
– Check Up on the Status of the Voting Age Worldwide
– Congrats to our Resident Genius, President Stefan Muller
– NYRA in the News
– Recent NYRA Blog Entries
– News from the Web
– Conclusion


For us at NYRA Freedom this past month has been crazy and it’s been no different for NYRA. Many youth rights issues are making their way into the national consciousness. Gulag schools, the voting age, and the drinking age are all coming under fire. It’s entirely possible that some progress may be made for youth rights, but not without effort; write letters to pro-youth and anti-youth politicians alike, expressing your support, suggesting pro-youth legislation, or making your views about the rights of youth known. Speak out in support of a lower drinking age or a lower voting age. Get and stay involved in your communities, and in local and state politics. It’s dedicated youth rights supporters like you that make the difference.

Abuse at Gulag Facilities Exposed at Congressional Hearing

The U.S. Congressional Committee on Education and Labor got an earful on April 24: a day of evidence and testimony about the physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of young people at gulag schools, or behavior modification facilities, across the country, and the deceptive marketing practices they use to ensnare the children of frustrated parents. After a year of congressional investigation, the chairman of the committee, Rep. George Miller, advocates federal laws that will regulate these facilities, requiring that staff be trained and parents be fully informed, and empowering the Department of Health and Human Services to inspect the programs. The committee heard not only from “experts” but also from victims of gulag schools, such as Jon Martin-Crawford, who testified, “The nightmares and psychological scars of being dragged from your home to a place in the middle of nowhere, restrained in blankets and duct tape, assaulted, verbally and physically… those scars and that trauma will never go away.” Jon, as well as another program survivor, Kathryn Whitehead, are both on the board of the Community Alliance For the Ethical Treatement of Youth, a NYRA ally. Among the attendees was NYRA executive director Alex Koroknay-Palicz.
Review the two new Government Accountability Office reports on abuse and deceptive marketing at residential treatment centers:
Watch video from the hearing here:
Be sure to write your Congressperson and tell them to support H.R. 5876, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008. This is the biggest pro-youth rights bill in Congress in decades, if you’ve never written a letter to Congress before, please do so now.

New York Politicians Push for Teen Representation

New York may soon take a big step towards equality for youth by lowering the age at which one can sit on community boards in New York City to 16. After a press conference on April 13 by the Future Voters of America announcing the initiative, legislation was introduced in both state and city governments to lower the age. In the state legislature, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and Senator Andrew Lanza are pushing for the change, and in the New York City Council, Councilwoman Gale Brewer is championing the cause.
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, a supporter of the proposal, himself was appointed to a community board when he was 16 years old. Lowering the age for representation to 16 would allow 16- and 17-year-olds greater civic participation in their communities. “[Young people] definitely can participate in the discussions about their community,” Councilwoman Brewer told the New York Daily News. “I’ve seen them do it time and time again.” Young people who care about their communities have friends in New York.

New U.S. Congresswoman Supports Lower Voting Age

At the same time that strides are being taken for youth rights in New York, progress towards a lower voting age is being made across the country, in California. In the state Assembly, Speaker-elect Karen Bass supports a lower voting age, and has been in contact with local youth rights activists, including NYRA Director Alex Hull-Richter, about the issue. Also, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, former California state senator, won a special election on April 8 to replace the late Congressman Tom Lantos in the U.S. House of Representatives. Speier is a youth rights supporter who advocates a lower voting age. During her time in the California state government, she filed legislation to lower the voting age in that state, and she was endorsed by NYRA-Berkeley when she ran for lieutenant governor.
Speier isn’t the only advocate of youth suffrage in the U.S. Congress. Congresswoman Maxine Waters also wants the voting age lowered, and not only has Congressman and former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich publicly advocated lowering the voting age, but he also intends to introduce federal legislation to do just that, and has been in touch with NYRA Vice President Chip Sinton about this legislative milestone. Current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opposes a lower voting age, but Pelosi faces a tough election battle in the fall against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, running as an independent.

NYRA Secretary Creating New Chapter in Maryland

A new chapter is being formed in Montgomery County, Maryland, which borders Washington, DC. NYRA Secretary and Director Katrina Moncure, the person behind this chapter initiative, hopes that it will be a companion to the Washington, DC chapter. The newly forming chapter has already held one meeting, on April 12th. The next meeting will be held at 2:00 P.M. on May 10th in Rockville, MD, next to Regal near the Rockville Metro station.
For more information, and to RSVP, visit http://nyra.meetup.com/50 or e-mail kmoncure@youthrights.org.

Check Up on the Status of the Voting Age Worldwide

Writing an essay, letter to the editor, or paper about the voting age? Working on lowering the voting age in your state or municipality, and want to quickly check up on the status of the voting age around the world and the history of youth suffrage? Then check out NYRA’s updated Vote Status page. There you’ll find information about the fifteen countries that currently allow people younger than 18 to vote and a list of U.S. states that allow 17-year-olds to vote in primaries, as well as summaries of movements to lower the voting age in the United States and around the world and detailed linked sources.
Find the updated page here: http://www.youthrights.org/votestatus.php

Congrats to our Resident Genius, President Stefan Muller

NYRA President Stefan Muller was recently a finalist for the Intel Science Talent Search, the top high school science award in the country. Which, of course, means that NYRA is being led by one of the smartest students in the entire country! Stefan’s research project was creating a computer program to mathematically model the body’s inflammatory response to damaged tissue. Because he was a finalist, Stefan got to go to the White House and meet the president. So congratulations, Stefan! You’re making us all look good.
NYRA in the News

NYRA has been making a splash this past month with quite a few radio and TV appearances. Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz appeared twice on television, once on Fox News and again on the Mike and Juliet Show, and President Stefan Muller was on the Sirius Satellite Radio show “Me and Vinnie. In separate shows, Koroknay-Palicz and NYRA-New Orleans President, Ashley Campbell were both interviewed on the Ed Clancy Show on WGSO 990 AM radio in New Orleans.
What sparked all this media attention?
The movement in seven states to lower the drinking age. In Kentucky, Wisconsin, and South Carolina, the movement is meant only for members of the military. South Dakota, Missouri, Vermont, and Minnesota hope to lower the drinking age to 18 for everyone.
To see the TV spots, go here:
To hear Campbell’s radio appearance, go here:
To listen to Stefan Muller’s Sirius radio appearance, go here:
To read Koroknay-Palicz quotes in the Duluth News Tribune, go here:

Recent NYRA Blog Entries

MADD Thinks Only Responsible Adults Should Drink & Drive
MADD’s drinking age strategy (or lack thereof)
Why Candice Lightner isn’t helping to prevent drunk driving

News from the Web

Our view: It?s 1 a.m. Do you know where your teen is driving
Specially groomed eyebrows a headache at Oregon high school
EVSC gives wheels the boot, schools also tighten dress codes, change cell phone policies
Helicopter Moms vs. Free-Range Kids
Dog bites, nooses: Teen camp abuses laid out
Marketing of boot camps under congressional scrutiny
High-pitched device serves as teen repellent
Teen homelessness more than a family issue
World’s youngest professor can’t legally drink
Lawmakers Go Home After Adopting Key Safety Measures
Why is 21 the outstanding magic number in America?
Britain: Coming Of Age
Texas School Suspends Student for Answering Call in Class From Dad in Iraq
Life on the street gets tougher for runaways
Mom lets 9-year-old take subway home alone


Every month, it seems more and more that our progress is accelerating. The allies of youth are making a powerful push in New York, the injustice of gulag facilities is finally being exposed on a national stage, the movement to lower the drinking age is catching on nationwide, several supporters of lowering the voting age are working in the U.S. Congress, and active NYRA chapters continue to sprout up while positive publicity snowballs. It is because of dedicated, passionate youth rights supporters like you, starting and participating in chapters, protesting discrimination against youth, and advocating for justice and equality for young people, that we have been able to make such extraordinary progress. With your help, there’s nowhere to go now but up.