Monday, October 22, 2012

Kid Suspended from School After Mom Packs "alternative" drink in His Lunchbox

A school in Newport Beach, California—where you'd think they would know better—suspended an elementary school kid for the beverage his mommy packed in his lunch bag.

It was kombucha, a fermented drink made with tea and sugar that can contain trace amounts of alcohol. The increasingly popular beverage made headlines in 2011 when it (supposedly) caused a false positive on Lindsay Lohan's court-mandated blood alcohol testing. But the typical drinker isn't a blond alkie. Kombucha is a home brew favorite with the seitan-and-seaweed set, thanks to the a host of (unverified) health benefits some believe confers.

The California kid originally got fingered for the container his mom packed the tea in: a glass bottle protected by a foam sleeve. (Aficionados say the acidic tea shouldn't be packed in plastic or metal.) But when school officials found out what was inside the verboten receptacle, they freaked out. The kid spent the whole day in the school office. At one point they called in a police officer. The vice principal suggested that the kid may be required to transfer schools and tried to enroll him in alcohol abuse counseling course aimed at teens. Then the infraction was reported to the school district and the kid was suspended for 5 days.

The kid's mom got wind of what was going on and wound up getting the suspension revoked, but it's on his record and the school district may yet choose to take action.

It doesn't matter whether the tea is healthy or not, of course. Nor does it matter if I think it's a little bit gross. Just as with raw milk, the point it that people should be able to drink what they want—and make choices for their kids—without intervention by the cops, for crying out loud.


Children who suffer brain injuries are more likely to become criminals later in life

No surprise  -- but taking a survey of prisoners is naive

Young people who sustain brain injuries are more likely to commit crimes and end up in prison, new research suggests.  Injuries caused by trauma to the head can cause maturing brains to 'misfire', affecting judgement and the ability to control impulses.

The study, from the University of Exeter, calls for greater monitoring and treatment to prevent later problems.

Its findings echo a separate report by the Children’s Commissioner for England on the impact of injuries on maturing brains and the social consequences.

In the new report, Repairing Shattered Lives, Professor Huw Williams from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Clinical Neuropsychology Research, describes traumatic brain injury as a 'silent epidemic'.

It is said to occur most frequently among children and young people who have fallen over or been playing sport, as well as those involved in fights or road accidents.

The consequences can include loss of memory, with the report citing international research which indicates the level of brain injuries among offenders is much higher than in the general population.

A survey of 200 adult male prisoners in Britain found 60 per cent claimed to have suffered a head injury, the report notes.

It also acknowledges there may be underlying risk factors for brain injury and offending behaviour but says improving treatment and introducing screening for young offenders would deliver significant benefits in terms of reducing crime and saving public money.

Professor Williams said: 'The young brain, being a work in progress, is prone to "risk taking". And so it is more vulnerable to getting injured in the first place, and suffering subtle to more severe problems in attention, concentration and managing one’s mood and behaviour.'

He added that brain injury is rarely considered by criminal justice professionals when assessing the rehabilitative needs of an offender.

'Yet brain injury has been shown to be a condition that may increase the risk of offending, and it is also a strong "marker" for other key factors that indicate risk for offending,' he said.

The report from the Children’s Commissioner is based on a review of futher published evidence from the University of Exeter and the University of Birmingham.

It says a large number of young people in custody in England tend to have a significant degree of neurodevelopmental disorders compared to the general population.

This could lead to communication and learning difficulties and emotional and behavioural problems, it says.

Many young offenders are said to have a reading age below that of criminal responsibility, which is aged 10 in England and Wales.

Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, has called on government, the judiciary and others in the youth justice system to identify neurodevelopmental conditions in young people more rapidly.

She said: 'Our failure to identify [these] disorders and put in place measures to prevent young people with such conditions from offending is a tragedy.

'It affects the victims of their crimes, the children themselves, their families, the services seeking to change offenders’ lives for the better, and wider society.

'Although children who have neurodevelopmental disorders and/or who have suffered brain injuries may know the difference between right and wrong, they may not understand the consequences of their actions, the processes they then go through in courts or custody, nor have the means to address their behaviour to avoid reoffending.'


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