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My Nineth Newsletter

15 March 2001


An unintentional pattern here: Thanksgiving, Inauguration Day, the Ides of March Well, I'm running out of occasions, so we'll just get shorter and more often.

For those new to this newsletter, I am the author of TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD, a new issue-oriented book for young Americans on civic and political activism. Engagement is integral to our democracy and youth and young voters - citizens and residents already - definitely have the voice, power, intelligence, sense of justice, passion and energy to give the benefit of their participation right now! My website and this newsletter provide updates on current issues along with resources for change.

Something not planned for this newsletter but unavoidably in the news: school violence. I have written about "ratting" and zero tolerance. The concerns continue. Consider seriously current news, op-eds and school response but please be wary of political rhetoric. Remember, juvenile crime is falling, not increasing. The elements of school shootings are complex and need to be examined but do not assume these are characteristic of all individualistic youth.

I highly recommend you visit the website of the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice and look at their recent survey "School House Hype" and read the words of their director, Vincent Schiraldi, excerpted here:
"In the face of the tragic shooting at Santana High School in Santee, California, this is a critical time for Americans to remember the good news about today's generation of high school students that youth crime, in and out of schools, is at its lowest level in decades, that crime, violence, and homicides are all declining sharply in schools, and that today's youth are better behaved in a whole host of ways than youth of my "baby-boom" generation.
Crime in schools has been fairly closely tracking youth crime in general. For example, school crime declined by 29% between 1993 and 1997, mirroring the 30% decline in overall youth crime during roughly the same period. According to data released by the Justice Department and National Center for Education Statistics, the number of serious violent crimes in schools declined by 34% during that period and students carrying weapons to schools declined by 30%."

At is a provocative article on "white denial" of a shooter profile. Also a series of stories on school violence, juvenile justice and a Berkeley High, CA student's editorial, under the heading "Youth Violence: Mixed Opinions" at

Register até/, then go to "school shootings - media coverage" for a bulletin board discussion: How media is covering school shootings.


A. Human rights & youth activism about overseas child labor.

B. Current news & concerns

C. Recent youth activism

D. Make Yourself Heard! Opportunities for involvement

E. New Stuff on TPP!


At a recent meeting at Santa Monica High School ("SamoHi") in Southern California, I was moved by the strong speeches of the four students who have formed a local chapter of Free The Children, an international organization founded by Canadian Craig Kielburger when he was 12 (he is now a 17 year-old senior). FTC is a network of children seeking to free children from poverty, exploitation and abuse and give them a voice, leadership training, and opportunities to take action on issues affecting them locally and globally. The focus: Breaking the cycle of child exploitation/slave labor through action and raising money to provide opportunities for children to be children and for education, the way to break free from poverty.

I am excerpting portions of the SamoHi Free The Children Club's presentation as this new club has defined and is working with this issue in a manner instructive to all of us, starting by raising money to bring Craig Kielburger to the high school to speak to its students this spring.
"I am here today to introduce you to the Free The Children Club we are starting at Santa Monica High School. I first became interested in the idea for the club when I saw the documentary made by Craig Kielburger ... The video presented the horrors of child labor and the conditions that many children are forced to live and work in. I had briefly heard of the injustices of child labor, but never before did it affect me as strongly. The most vital point I gathered from the video was that these children do not have the options that 'typical' children are given. They are not offered the choice to work; in fact the majority of them are forced to go to work because their families are so impoverished that the need money to survive. Š. [By so doing] these children are not being given the education that they are entitled to. They lose the freedom to be children because they must be responsible and work instead of play. By shedding light on this important issue, we can increase awareness, which can lead to greater involvement of people of all ages, and especially children.
Every child has hopes and dreams, and we want to help them reach those. We want to work towards empowering them to make their own decision and be the leaders they are capable of becoming."

From the Club's Mission Statement: "It is our goal to help raise awareness of this issue through education so that people are motivated to make change. The following methods will be used to inspire change: (1) Letter writing campaigns to politicians and people in power such as CEO's of large companies who violate or ignore child labor laws; (2) Fundraisers to help gain funds to donate to different causes that help the issue at hand; (3) Speeches to educate people about the cause.
A rescued 10-year-old rug worker was quoted as saying 'I used to weave carpets from 5 o'clock in the morning until 10 o'clock at night. The next morning I had to wake up and follow the same old routine.' We hope to make the lives of children such as this young girl better, therefor we need your support. Together we can work towards building a community that honors the humanity of every child."

To start your own club or get involved with Free The Children, check out, and especially the "Get Involved", the mailing list and information on summer leadership camps (this year's is August 12 -18th).

Read Abby Krasner's profile at pg. 73 of TPP. At 16, she formed a coalition at her school and participated in the preparation and passage of the first federal law to ban the importation into the US of products made with bonded child labor. Also see:
a. Human Rights Watch
b. Canada's Maquila Solidarity Network
c. Check out USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops), in your search engines and "USAS Update: Anti-Sweatshop Groups Take on Broader Issues of Worker's Rights" at

And for dreadful news about child exploitation on the human rights front, see
a. "A Colombian Liver With Your Turkish Cornea?" discussing how Third World country children are no longer just work slaves or sexual toys, but also spare parts.
b. China's schoolhouse/fireworks factory explosion: "China's Premier Will Press Schoolhouse Blast Inquiry" (3/15) on the archive.


1. a. The first report from the 2000 Census, "Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin,"
b. Read " New Census' Options Challenge Traditional Thinking Demographics: Experts say multiracial categories will redefine law and racial politics."
c. Think about: (1) The change in various populations. (2) The issues of those left out (often those in poverty). (3) The questions of "race": With the addition of so many categories does it signify a new understanding? Does it dilute the political influence and federal economic opportunity of power bases? How does this affect issues of voting rights, reapportionment, grants, definitions of multiculturalism?

2. Internet connectivity is growing (duhŠ). According to a PEW Research Center report, : "The number of American adults with Internet access grew by 16 million in the last six months of 2000, as women, minorities, and families with modest incomes continued to surge online. More than 104 million adults [now have] access to the Internet."
a. 56% of American adults have Internet access now.
b. On a typical day at the end of 2000, 58 million Americans were logging on - an increase of 9 million people in the daily Internet population from mid-year.
c. Internet access among women, minorities, those from households with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000, and parents with children living at home notably increased in numbers and usage.
d. Middle-aged Internet users, blacks, and Hispanics increased their use of the Internet for various information and a jump among those without much formal education who use the Internet for work-related research.
There are still digital divides but the opportunity to connect is increasing for those who are older or who have less income. Work to make this happen.

3. Talking about connectivity, take the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey and see how you stand on working together for civic engagement and change. See their analysis of the answers of 30,000 people in 40 communities covering 29 states! The survey questions:
How connected are Americans to each other?
* How many of your neighbors' first names do you know?
* How often do you attend parades or festivals?
* Do you volunteer at your kids' school? Or help out senior citizens?
* Do you trust your local police?
* Do you know who your U.S. senators are?
* Do you attend religious services? Or go to the theater?
* Do you sign petitions? Or attend neighborhood meetings?
* Do you think the people running your community care about you?
* Can you make a difference?
* How often do you visit with friends or family?
From the intro: "These connections - our Social Capital - are the glue that hold us together and enable us to build bridges to others." Your community may be interested in doing such a survey. See if it can be adapted to your schools, friends or clubs for your own benchmark to increasing social capital!

4. New approaches to understanding diversity:
a. MULTICULTURAL DEBATE - From the Dallas Morning News, a report on the current debate on the value of University requirements for multicultural classes.
b. LGBT (LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL,TRANSGENDER) - " Cross Section of a Revolution: an Interview with Amy Sonnie." When Amy Sonnie was in school, she shaped her senior thesis around a collection of writing by her peers -- [lgbt] young people. She channeled her connections and experiences as a community organizer into the anthology, "Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology," where youth come together to voice their perspectives about the obstacle courses that queer youth make their way through every day.
c. GENDER EQUALITY - "New French Law Requires 50% Female Candidates", "France recently passed a law requiring political parties to have an equal number of male and female candidates. With less than 9% women in its legislature in 2000, France is comparable to the United States when it comes to political gender equality--13% of U.S. Senators are women. However, France falls shamefully behind other European countries. Sweden has the most women in its legislature (45%), followed by Denmark and Finland (both 37%). Enacted to close the gap between France and its European neighbors, the new law is expected to yield the highest number of female politicians ever in the upcoming March election."

5. The cover story of the April issue of the Atlantic Monthly: "The Organization Kid: The [college] young men and women of America's future elite work their laptops to the bone, rarely question authority, and happily accept their positions at the top of the heap as part of the natural order of life." Check this out and discuss the findings and whether you agree - the magazine is inviting especially students - in their online forum Next week (the 19th+), the article's author, David Brooks, will join the forum and reply to questions and comments.


1. For 19 days, Clayton Giles, 14, went on a hunger strike (except for liquids) to dramatize the current legal system's lack of consideration of children in divorce hearings. He's now planning to journey from Calgary to Washington D.C. by bicycle and on foot to gain support " to make everyone aware that kids are humans, not property, and that we deserve to be heard at the same time as our parents. ... [W]e want a say in what happens to us when our family breaks up. Just because kids can't explain exactly why we want something, doesn't mean that we don't know what we want." Clayton's website:

2. , high school student, Nathan Black's op-ed piece on school violence in the New York Times! He writes evocatively of the balance between zero tolerance, student responsibility and a new climate of adult/student awareness.

3. 65 high school juniors and seniors, representing "all different groups at the school, football players, student leaders, smokers, kids who hang out at the library, our one and only Goth," are part of the Mentors in Violence Prevention program in Jefferson County, CO (which includes Columbine). They actively worked to diffuse conflicts in their school, knowing that they relate better with their peers than the administrators, making themselves available to their fellow students. The students far prefer this over impositions on their rights.,1299,DRMN_106_122528,00.html


1. As Nathan Black discovered, letters can be well received and can generate publication or a news story! From Alex Wayne, a journalist with the News & Record in Greensboro N.C., discussing the e-mail tag added to his stories: "Here, we recently added a tagline to all stories with the reporter's email address and direct phone number ... I've found I get slightly more reader response ... And most are far from clueless; in fact, I've been taking down names and numbers so I can get more common folks into my future stories, not just the bureaucrats I typically deal with."

Journalists are by nature interested and inquisitive and may welcome your response or your suggestion covering a concern. Just do it in a professional manner!

2. Bored with the same old spring break? Turn your break into time to volunteer, explore culture, build houses, save trees or brush up on direct action technique with ideas from Or create your own spring break program. See Break Away: the Alternative Break Connection at

3. Training and activism start with education. A comprehensive student financial assistance resource is the online Student Guide (also available in Spanish) from the US Dept. of Education at

4. Wiretap is looking for a full-time summer fellow (age 15-23) someone from OUTSIDE the SF Bay Area (the fellowship supports living there but not airfare) for reporting, writing, editing and monitoring community online boards. Application deadline: April 30. E-mail for details.

5. The Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program (MAAP) of the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO) is currently seeking applicants for the summer cycle (June 13 to July 31) for "the nation's premier organizer training program for people of color." With stipend and expenses and connections to jobs in the progressive community and labor organizations. A required Community Action Training takes place in April so apply soon (deadline: April 15). There is also a Fall session. Information online at or call the MAAP Hotline: 510.594.4046.

6. The Washington Center for Politics & Journalism conducts two 4-month Washington politics and journalism semesters per year for college journalists whose career goal is political reporting. Application deadline April 6 for Fall 2001 Class with stipend and real bureau experience. Check out at

7. The Center for Environmental Citizenship conducts two Summer Training Academies in June in DC in (a) environmental justice ( and (b) environmental journalism (

Check out TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD and its companion website, TPP was written as a guide and a tool for activism. If ever that tool was needed, it is now.

Again, please let me know of a concern or activity you would like me to tell others about. And send this on to others and suggest that they e-mail me if they would like to be added to this list (or if they wish to be removed).

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you received this twice, please let me know as I refine my list.

Sara Jane Boyers
Press/Twenty-First Century Book ISBN: 0-7613-1391-5, paper $9.95/ISBN
0-7613-1307-9 hardcover, $25.90
© 2001 Sara Jane Boyers