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Body cam footage of the police approaching 9-year-old Bobbi Wilson and her mother.

On October 22, 9-year-old Bobbi Wilson was excited to go out into her Caldwell, New Jersey, neighborhood to see if a mixture she put together would be effective at killing spotted lanternflies. She had learned about the dangers that the lanternflies pose to the local tree population during the summer and created an insecticide that she learned about on TikTok.

Spotted lanternflies are an invasive species dangerous to trees because they feed on their sap.

“That’s her thing,” Wilson’s mother, Monique Joseph, told CNN. “She’s going to kill the lanternflies, especially if they’re on a tree. That’s what she’s going to do.”

While Wilson was peacefully working on her sustainability experiment, her neighbor, Gordon Lawshe, called the police on her. “There’s a little Black woman walking, spraying stuff on the sidewalks and trees on Elizabeth and Florence. I don’t know what the hell she’s doing. Scares me, though,” he said, according to CNN.

Lawshe told the dispatcher she was a “real tiny woman” and wearing a “hood.”


When the police arrived, they were calm and did their best not to upset the young girl. They assured Wilson and Joseph that they had done nothing wrong. But the mother couldn’t believe that the police were called on them by a neighbor they knew.

“Mr. Lawshe told Mrs. Joseph that had he known that it was her daughter that he had seen, he certainly would not have called the police. Mrs. Joseph did not accept Mr. Lawshe’s apology," Lawshe’s attorney, Gregory Mascera, told CNN.


Rebecca Epstein, the executive director of the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality, says that the incident may have been an instance of “adultification bias” where young Black girls are treated like they are much older than white girls of the same age.

“It’s a very pervasive form of bias that does not know boundaries, in terms of which fields it occurs in. In emergency rooms, we’re seeing it affect the treatment and diagnosis of Black girls. In schools, we’re seeing it come up in the form of harsher and more frequent discipline against Black girls,” Epstein said in an interview with CNN.

The fact that a 9-year-old girl had the police called on her for any act is a depressing sign of the times in America. But thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. In the aftermath of the incident, a community of people stood up for Wilson and praised her for her dedication to sustainability.

A group of Black female scientists at Yale hosted Wilson and her family in November. She toured various laboratories and was invited to submit lanternfly specimens to the university's entomology department.

The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions honored Wilson with its Sustainability Award after it learned about her work with spotted lanternflies.

“We were thrilled that she was doing that,” Ann Marchioni of the ANJEC told the Daily Beast.

Wilson was given the award on Tuesday, December 6, and science communicator Jason Bittel was on hand to talk about spotted lanternflies and how he got into science writing.

“When I saw what happened with Bobbi, my heart immediately just sank," Bittel said, according to New Jersey Hills, "because what I saw in her I was doing as a young boy. We were celebrated, if anything, no one called the police on us or chided us in any way."

Bittel said that Wilson’s dreams could have been crushed the day the police were called on her. But the community stepped up to preserve her passion for science. To promote her interest in science, Bittel presented Wilson with a tub full of interactive materials and gave books to her mother so her daughter could learn more.

"When this incident originally happened, I had one goal. It was to change the trajectory of that day for Bobbi," Joseph said. "I can't say I've done it all myself. It wasn't just me, it was the community. … It was friends near and far that understood what happened."


This article originally appeared on 12.13.22

Thanks for stopping by for Day 2 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and warmth into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!

'Tis the season to give big! Just a month before Christmas, a New Jersey man was inspired to give back. Was it the spirit of Santa? Just good ol' human kindness? Either way, he made some families very happy this season. The big-hearted donor, identified as "Charlie K." by CBS Philly, generously paid off $10,780 in layaway orders at the Cherry Hill Toys R Us store.


"[I'm] just trying to bring some happiness to people," Charlie K said, NBC 5 reported. "That's really it. Help bring back to the community that brought so much happiness to me and my family."

Charlie K.'s gift — an "unprecedented" donation, according to the CBS affiliate — covered a whopping 62 orders. When he swung by, Charlie K. also had every interested customer in the store pick out three presents for Toys For Tots — a gesture totaling $2,000 in value helping families in need over the holidays. (And he doesn't even expect any milk or cookies in return!)

"I want to say thank you very much," said Stephanie Dawson, who's layaway order covered seven presents worth $200 for her grandchildren. "Thank God for you."

Watch CBS Philly's coverage of the story below:

More days of happiness here:DAY 1 / [DAY 2] / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5/ DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17/ DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31

On Aug. 9, Oregon became the fifth state to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Oregon has been at the forefront of tobacco cessation and prevention programs for more than 20 years. A 1996 voter-approved tobacco taxation and prevention initiative has prevented an estimated 31,000 Oregon children from picking up the habit, and cigarette use has declined by more than 50% in the state.

The latest tobacco bill, signed by Governor Kate Brown, will continue to build on these efforts, prohibiting the sale and use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products to people under the age of 21.


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Oregon joins California, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Maine, and New Jersey in raising the legal age for tobacco use to 21.

Like Oregon, Maine and New Jersey raised the tobacco age to 21 this summer. The Maine legislature successfully overrode the veto of Governor Paul LePage to turn the bill into law on Aug. 2. While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the bipartisan bill July 21.

In a statement, Christie cited his mother's death from the effects of smoking and hoped the measure would keep young people from ever starting the addictive habit.

"By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, we are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” he wrote.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.

While only five states and D.C. have raised the tobacco age so far, many cities and states are considering the measure.

After nearly 10 years of trying, a bill in Texas to raise the tobacco age has bipartisan support and positive momentum. Efforts in Utah, Massachusetts, and Washington state are similarly underway after several fits and starts.

Since statewide measures are time consuming and difficult, 200 cities and towns have taken the step to raise the tobacco age on their own, including Chicago, New York City, Kansas City, and Boston.

Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.

Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000, or 1 in 5, deaths in the U.S. each year.

Measures like these are truly a matter of life and death. Smoking causes a majority of the cases of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and it significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer. It can affect fertility and smoking, while pregnant can result in stillbirth or low birth weight.

Each day, more than 3,200 people under 18 try their first cigarette. If current patterns persist, 5.6 million Americans currently under the age of 18 will ultimately die from a smoking-related illness.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Something has got to give.

Since 99% of smokers have their first cigarette by 26, (90% before 18), raising the legal tobacco age is an important step toward keeping the next generation healthy and tobacco-free.

Hawaii, California, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon are leading the way. Make sure your city government and state legislature are working to join them.

Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images.

Gibraltar. Malta. Lichtenstein. These are a few of the places with better infant mortality rates than the good old U.S. of A.

Don't get me wrong, the U.S. is pretty good overall at the pivotal task of keeping young children alive. But we're still lagging behind a number of nations, including those at the very top of the list, like Singapore, Sweden, and Finland, just to name a few.

One of the biggest problems new parents in developed nations face is SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, which is exactly as frightening and unpredictable as it sounds.


Experts can't always pinpoint the cause of every death from SIDS, but more often than not, it has to do with unsafe sleeping environments that accidentally cut off the baby's air supply with blankets, toys, or other obstructions.

For years now, many of the world's leading countries in this area have had a secret weapon in the fight against SIDS: cardboard boxes.

Or "baby boxes" as they're known.

The simple, unadorned box acts as the absolute perfect place for a new baby to sleep.

It all started in Finland, and once people caught on to the program's unprecedented success in lowering infant mortality rates, it spread to Canada, the U.K., and beyond.

Finally, baby boxes have arrived in America.

New parents in New Jersey and San Francisco can now get a free baby box just by completing an online educational program.

Anyone, anywhere can buy a box for themselves or a friend, but San Francisco and New Jersey have become some of the first places in the United States to partner with the Baby Box Company to give out the boxes for free to parents who spend a little time online learning how to prevent SIDS.

#babyvan 💙#babyboxuniversity #sleepsafe #3weeksold

A post shared by KLerno💖 (@katlerno) on

The program goes against our nature, which might be why it's taken so long to catch on here. After all, every new parent wants the nursery to be perfect. The perfect crib, decor, bedding, maybe cute little crib bumpers that tie it all together.

But the safest thing for a newborn baby truly is an obstruction-free box.

The baby box program is about so much more than just safe sleep, though.

The boxes also come with a handful of essentials, like diapers, wipes, and a few other things you'll need to get through baby's first weeks.

This kind of basic support is immensely important. One of the universal truths of parenting is that leaving the hospital with your newborn is a massive shock because you quickly realize you are now completely on your own. There's no instruction manual to tell you what to do.

Then there's affordability. Some parents just can't afford a state of the art crib right away, and having a starter supply of diapers, clothes, and other items can be a huge help while they adjust to their new budget-busting baby.

"I don't have to spend crazy money on a bassinet, and when baby has outgrown it, I can give it away, use it for storage, or recycle it. It's incredibly practical," says Krysti, a mom from Canada.

The baby box coming to America is great news because it might be about to get a lot harder to be a parent in the United States.

In its current form, Trumpcare — the proposed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act — threatens the existence of Planned Parenthood along with gutting access to vital services like breastfeeding support and STD screenings, all of which can negatively affect infant survival rates.

Beautiful boy #babyboxco #babyboxuniversity #babybox #baby #safesleep #babiesofinstagram #ruben #boy

A post shared by Emma Louise (@the_journey_of_ruben) on

Free baby boxes for new parents may seem like a simple idea, but its impact could be huge, and it couldn't come at a better time.

If we want to make America "great again," taking care of parents and children would be a good start.