NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229
Volume 8, Issue 5
June 12, 2008
Editors: Justin Graham and Lexi Johnson

Table of Contents

– Introduction
– Bill Before Congress to Stop Torture of Teens at Gulag Schools
– Ralph Nader Comes Out in Support of the Youth Vote
– Election for NYRA Board of Directors Begins in July
– New Chapter in the Sunshine State to Focus on Voting Age
– NYRA’s Annual Meeting Approaching
– NYRA-Thacher a Success, Says President
– Help NYRA Win Money with the Click of a Mouse
– Members Needed for Washington, DC Chapter
– Looking for Teens to Blog Their Two Cents about the Election
– NYRA’s New Interns Ready to Work for Youth Rights
– News from the Web
– Conclusion


Now is an exciting time to be a youth rights supporter. The most important piece of legislation in NYRA’s history is before the U.S. House of Representatives, awaiting a vote by the full house this month. Presidential candidate Ralph Nader has come out in support of one of our most important issues. With all of the exposure and traction that we’re gaining, opponents of youth rights aren’t going to sit still and do nothing. But as long as youth rights activists continue to work for change and support NYRA, we’ll continue making progress that can’t be ignored.

Bill Before Congress to Stop Torture of Teens in Gulag Schools

Every day, young people are tortured or otherwise abused in “behavior modification facilities” or gulag schools, residential “treatment” facilities designed to set troubled and misbehaving teens on the straight and narrow. Young people at these facilities are beaten and subjected to other physical and sexual mistreatment. They are forced to exercise in the heat until they drop to the ground in exhaustion. They are forced to eat vomit or denied access to restrooms. They are physically restrained and left in isolation for hours or even days at a time. They are denied access to food and water. They are intentionally humiliated and subjected to brainwashing techniques designed to tear down their self-respect. And the operators of these facilities are not held accountable.
But that may be about to change.
This month, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008. This vital piece of legislation will enact several necessary reforms intended to stop the torture. It will prohibit gulag schools from abusing young people physically, sexually, or psychologically; require that residents have access to food, shelter, clothing, and medical care; restrict the use of physical restraints; require that young people have access to a telephone; require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to inspect these facilities at least once every two years; and more.
This is perhaps the most important piece of youth rights legislation in NYRA’s history, and you can do something to help advance it. Even if you’re currently disenfranchised by the voting age of 18, write to your representative in Congress and insist that he or she support this bill. Educate others about this important issue. You can even write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your support for the bill.
Write to your representative here:
Read more about the bill, including the full text, here:
We are finally within striking distance of the gulag schools. Let’s make our voices heard.

Ralph Nader Comes Out in Support of the Youth Vote

In a bombshell article, presidential candidate Ralph Nader has come out strong in support of one of our most important goals: lowering the voting age to 16. Mr. Nader supported lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 during the Vietnam War, but he, like many other Americans young and old, doesn’t want to stop there. Mr. Nader recognizes the worth of young people and their value to America, and, like us, is tired of seeing them disenfranchised by the 18 voting age. With his courageous stance for youth suffrage, Ralph Nader joins a growing list of public servants advocating a lower voting age, including Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, and more. “Much has been made of the youth vote this year amid evidence that more young people are turning out to vote in the primaries than ever before,” says Mr. Nader in the article. “Let’s take it to the next step.”
Read the article here:

Election for NYRA Board of Directors Begins in July

Time is running out to become a candidate for NYRA Board of Directors; the election begins next month. There are currently 12 candidates for nine available seats. All it takes to run is a paid membership to NYRA and a passionate dedication to youth rights. A seat on the Board of Directors is an excellent opportunity for youth rights activists to advance the cause. If you’re interested in running for the board, please let us know as soon as possible.
To begin your candidacy, email us at nyra@youthrights.org.
To become a member, go to:
The campaigning has already begun! Meet the 2008 board candidates and ask them questions here:

New Chapter in the Sunshine State to Focus on Voting Age

Jeff Nadel is the young, eloquent founder of NYRA’s newest chapter, NYRA-Boca Raton. This chapter has just been approved in the last few weeks, but already looks very promising. Jeff has been talking with Alex Koroknay-Palicz, NYRA Executive Director, and together they have formed some exciting plans. The chapter has decided to use the summer as a planning period and then get things into full swing in the fall when they will begin recruiting members and pursuing goals actively.
Currently, the chapter’s main aim will be lowering Florida’s voting age to 16. A campaign for communication with Florida’s legislators is currently in the works. Anyone in the South Florida area who would like to join the chapter or to help out should contact Jeff at Jeff@16ToVote.org.

NYRA’s Annual Meeting Approaching

NYRA’s famous (or infamous) annual meeting is now less than two months away. The annual meeting is an opportunity to network with other NYRA members and youth rights supporters from across the country, plot the course of the organization over the year to come, and become actively involved in the cause. Participants will see informative presentations about a variety of topics (last year there were guest speakers from the ACLU, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and others), discuss the direction of NYRA, learn and suggest ways to work towards real change for youth. Attendees will also be the first in the country to hear the NYRA election results. This year’s annual meeting will be held August 2-3 at NYRA’s offices in Washington, DC.
Email us at nyra@youthrights.org to let us know you’re coming.
Also pay attention to NYRA’s election section of our forums:

NYRA-Thacher a Success, Says President

Sara Brody, President of NYRA-Thacher, has reported that the chapter is a success. There have been 5 meetings and there are about 8 dedicated members so far. Although the group will be taking a break for the summer they plan to launch into a campaign to lower the drinking age when school begins in the fall.

Help NYRA Win Money with the Click of a Mouse

NYRA is participating in a unique fundraiser called Vote4cause. Vote4cause aims to expose people to new non-profits through voting sessions. At the end of the session the organization with the most votes wins money. You can vote at any time, day or night, as many times as you want (though only once every five minutes). So go to http://www.vote4cause.org/National-Youth-Rights-Association and win NYRA some exposure and possibly some money!

Members Needed for Washington, DC Chapter

After many years of quiet in our nation’s capitol, NYRA-DC is looking to reform. NYRA’s new intern, Shanita Conley is taking the lead in forming a vibrant new voice for youth in Washington, DC. The chapter needs members and it needs leaders. If you want to make a difference for youth rights please get involved.
The next meeting will be June 21 at the Martin Luther King Library in DC. For more information, please contact Shanita at sconley@youthrights.org.

Looking for Teens to Blog Their Two Cents about the Election

Looking for an opportunity to express your views about the 2008 presidential election and earn some money for NYRA at the same time? Now’s your chance. My2CentsforChange.org is looking for teens to blog about issues surrounding the election. Show the world that even though you’re not allowed to vote, your voice still matters and you care about the state of affairs in our country. My2CentsforChange.org is seeking bloggers who are between the ages of 13-17, are available to contribute at least 3 posts per month from July to November, and can compose well written, thought provoking posts in their own voice to inspire other teens to get involved in the 2008 election. Benefits include a $50 donation in your name to NYRA or another cause of your choosing (but why send the money elsewhere?) and opportunities to interact with professional reporters as a representative of My2CentsforChange.org. If you are interested in becoming a My2CentsforChange Election Blogger or learning more, please email Sarah Shapiro at sarah@my2centsforchange.org no later than June 18.
To learn more, visit:

NYRA’s New Intern Ready to Work for Youth Rights

NYRA has recently hired a new intern: Shanita Conley of Washington, DC, and she’s ready to get to work to advance the cause. Shanita was born and raised in Washington, DC and is currently attending the University at Albany, SUNY, in Albany, New York, where she is pursuing a major in Public Policy and a minor in Africana Studies.
Shanita says that she has noticed the campaigns waged to “protect the children” while children’s input is routinely ignored. She is eager to combat ageism and she is “…very excited to be helping out the NYRA cause!”

News from the Web

Raising school leaving age to 18 ‘could breach human rights’
Number of teen fatalities prompts push for stricter regulations on young drivers
Paintless in St. Louis?
Disenfranchised Youth
Alcohol Responsibility Conference Announces Debate on Minimum Legal Drinking Age
How Young Is Too Young to Risk Your Life?
62 N.J. teens busted for underage drinking at Vermont party
Texas Army base raises its drinking age to 21
Underage drinking laws could get tougher
Primary Voting Age change moving forward in PA
Constitutional amendment allowing 17 year-olds to vote going on the ballot
Chronic truants back on the radar with GPS devices
NH Supreme Court says 17-year-olds can’t vote in primaries
Students push for uncensored memorial page in yearbook
Student Protests School’s Hug Ban
U. of Okla. freshman, 19, elected mayor of Muskogee
To Curb Truancy, Dallas Tries Electronic Monitoring
Give Kids the Vote!
Mich. senator wants 16-year-olds to vote in school elections
Sorry, You And Your Wife Are Too Young To Go On Your Honeymoon
New bill: No ID, no ‘mature’ video games for you
Blaming the teen brain


It’s a busy time for NYRA, and the progress for youth rights keeps coming. The biggest legislative victory ever against abusive gulag schools is weeks away. Another presidential candidate has come out in support of youth voting rights. New chapters are still springing up and getting right to work on youth rights issues in their communities. The annual meeting is approaching, and the election for Board of Directors is set to begin in July. There’s no better time to jump right in and participate. Download the chapter handbook (visit http://www.youthrights.org/chapters.php to download) and start a chapter in your area. Write to your state and federal representatives. Donate to NYRA. Run for the Board of Directors and attend the annual meeting. There’s much to be done, and a nation of young people depending on us.