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Thousands of teens are being punished — by being locked in a box.

A room 10 feet by 7 feet. No human contact for months. How does this do teenagers any good?

In March 2014, Reveal, one of the websites of the Center for Investigative Reporting, did some investigating into the treatment of teenagers imprisoned on New York City's Rikers Island.

And what they found was pretty shocking: Teenagers were regularly put into solitary confinement.

"At any given time, about 100 teenagers are housed in solitary confinement at Rikers Island. ... Every day, thousands of teenagers around the U.S. are held in solitary confinement, but no one knows for sure how many. That's because the federal government does not require prisons, jails, and juvenile halls to report the number of young people they put in isolation or how long they keep them there." — Reveal

Reveal spoke with a teenager, Ismael "Izzy" Nazario, who throughout his time at Rikers Island spent a total of 300 days in solitary.


That's right, 300 days.

So teenagers — young people in their most formative years — are essentially being locked in a box.

Image by Wolfram Burner/Flickr.

A 10-by-7 room. They have no human contact. Just a toilet, a sink, and a bunk. Food comes in through a slot in the door. They might go on like this for six months.

Imagine how someone might react after days in that condition. Well, you don't have to imagine. Reports show evidence of young people pounding the walls, screaming, hallucinating, self-harming, and attempting, and committing, suicide.

Image via YouthSpeaks.

Many people were outraged by what CIR found and by Izzy's story, like Gabriel Cortez, an incredibly talented slam poet. Cortez believes that solitary confinement is a form of torture and that youth should instead be receiving the support they deserve.

Through art, writing, and good old-fashioned protest, he spoke out.

"But what room is there for growth in a cell with barely enough room to stand? What room is there for therapy and rehabilitation when trauma is promised 23 hours a day?"
— Gabriel Cortez

Check out his amazing video here. Heads up for some disturbing visuals.

The good news? As a result of the findings, Rikers Island will no longer place individuals below the age of 21 in solitary confinement.

But there's more work to be done.

Want to get other cities and states on board with protecting more young folks from this treatment?

You can. You have many options: from helping fund nonprofits like the National Juvenile Defender Center, to using ACLU's advocacy toolkits from its Stop Solitary campaign to organize in your region. You can also sign ACLU's petition to the Attorney General demanding an end to youth solitary confinement.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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Family

A mom describes her tween son's brain. It's a must-read for all parents.

"Sometimes I just feel really angry and I don’t know why."

This story originally appeared on 1.05.19


It started with a simple, sincere question from a mother of an 11-year-old boy.

An anonymous mother posted a question to Quora, a website where people can ask questions and other people can answer them. This mother wrote:

How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won't tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I've already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?

It's a familiar scenario for those of us who have raised kids into the teen years. Our sweet, snuggly little kids turn into moody middle schoolers seemingly overnight, and sometimes we're left reeling trying to figure out how to handle their sensitive-yet-insensitive selves.


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