New government data shows that approximately 250 parents and children have been separated at the US southern border since the end of June – and that’s not counting separations of other family members who cross the border together, whose separations are not tracked by the government. A report by the Texas Civil Rights Project estimates that, alongside hundreds of parent-child separations, up to six times as many other family members have been separated, citing – as one example – an 11-year-old Guatemalan boy who was separated from his uncle, his legal caretaker after his mother’s death. Efren Olivares of the Texas Civil Rights Project said, “Those are very difficult situations, especially because the government takes the position that it is not their responsibility to reunite them because they are not the legal guardian.”
Researcher Annette Bailey of Ryerson University in Toronto describes trauma as the biggest contributor to culture of gun violence that affects black youth in the U.S. and around the globe. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange reports that, “in one survey of black youth she conducted, every participant had a family member and/or friend who was a victim of gun violence… ‘When we think about who is affected most by gun violence, we see that [minority] youth are disproportionately injured and killed,’ she said. ‘Gun violence has become the single biggest threat to the survival of black youth.”’ When interviewing teens entangled with gun violence, she found they considered social poverty to be the main conduit for their involvement with brutality — something she interprets as a side effect of trauma. They described a loss of connection in their community, a loss of connection among families, lack of support and lack of culturally safe social services, Bailey said. They felt that social poverty fed directly into violence because it made them feel unworthy.” (via BMSG)
Recent research shows that cyclist fatalities in the US have increased by 25% since 2010, and that most pedestrians and cyclists who are killed or injured are obeying the law. This Quartz article explores strategies to protect cyclists and pedestrians through changes to the built environment, vehicle manufacturing, and raising public awareness. “Many bike lanes and pedestrianized zones only extend for short distances. Most American drivers have yet to fully appreciate that urban streets are to be shared. And even in the best of times, cars and trucks are not good at sharing the road. Vehicle drivers are often moving too fast to identify and respond to pedestrians and bicyclists. Blind spots for drivers can be death traps for other road users… Manufacturers can make vehicles less threatening to pedestrians and bicyclists by reducing the height of front bumpers. And cities can make streets safer with a combination of speed limit reductions, traffic calming measures, “road diets” for neighborhoods that limit traffic speed and volume, and better education for all road users. Initiatives to create more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly infrastructure should also be sensitive to social and class differences that may shape local priorities.”
New York Magazine reports on the long struggle to regulate environmental hazards like lead and pesticides based on children’s unique vulnerability, and the current administration’s rollback of newly won protections and scientific standards. “Until the mid-1990s, regulatory agencies had calculated health risks based on studies of adult males; children didn’t become part of the calculus until 1996, when Congress mandated they be considered. And not until 2016, after years of “hotly debating” the issue, according to a former EPA official, did the agency finally embrace epidemiological studies, for the first time, in its decision to ban virtually all uses of chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide among the chemicals in use during Eskenazi’s Berkeley study. It was a huge moment for the scientists who study children’s environmental health. The celebration was short-lived. Almost immediately after taking office, Trump’s first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, overturned the proposed ban on chlorpyrifos — a decision that Columbia University scientist Virginia Rauh, in a commentary for The New England Journal of Medicine, said “may be putting an entire generation of young brains in harm’s way.” Since then, the EPA has relaxed air-pollution standards, proposed rolling back regulations on mercury emissions, and introduced a plan for lead poisoning that critics say turns back the clock 20 years — all acts concerning toxins that epidemiologists have flagged as harmful to children. At the same time, the agency overhauled the regulatory process to diminish scientific input.”
New research from UC-Berkeley, published this week in the American Journal of Public Health and drawing from five years of interviews with Berkeley residents who live in primarily low-income neighborhoods, finds that consumption of soda has dropped by 52% since Berkeley’s soda tax went into effect three years ago. The California State Legislature is considering bills that would ban supersized sugary drinks, implement a statewide soda tax (after last year’s preemption of new local soda taxes), and ban displays of sugary drinks in grocery checkout lanes.
Three-thousand Oakland teachers from 86 schools are on strike as of Thursday morning, calling for raises to help teachers weather Oakland’s rising cost of living, smaller class sizes, more nurses and counselors to address students’ needs, and expressing opposition to the district’s plan to close 24 schools that serve primarily African-American and Latino neighborhoods.
Rewire interviews Maryland state Delegate Vaughn Stewart on his bill that would create a $2.5 billion trust fund in support of a statewide social housing program. “’Call it the ‘public option for housing,’’ he said. A social housing system, commonplace throughout Europe, would differ from traditional public housing programs in the United States because it would be open to everyone, varying in price according to a person’s income. Stewart said that the universal nature of social housing could garner political support across the socioeconomic spectrum—widespread support that Medicaid, for example, lacks, making it vulnerable to political machinations... While the social housing bill has little chance of making headway this year in the Maryland Legislature… Stewart said injecting the concept of social housing into the political mainstream would be critical to the public embracing housing not as a luxury, but as a human right. ‘It’s important to expand the limits of what is acceptable to discuss in American politics. I believe there’s real value in putting bold ideas on the table and you don’t have to be on the federal level to do that …. This is the kind of legislation that can shift the Overton window.’”
Rob Waters reports for NextCity on how business districts lobby for policies that ban homeless encampments and outlaw actions like sitting or lying on public sidewalks and increase the risk of injury and death for homeless people and make it harder for them to access social services. In Denver, for example, a social worker who was interviewed describes the “extreme consequences of a policy that forces people to leave the safety of groups. For her, the ban has also had an everyday impact: It dispersed her clients, hampering her ability to help them. ‘People I had spent years building a relationship with were getting swept and I couldn’t find them,’ she told me.”