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<May 2015>

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Safe Teens - Net & Cells

Students: The one group missing from student data privacy laws & bills
The one group missing in the conversation about student privacy rights is the very group existing and proposed laws are designed to protect. If you read the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) or the proposed bills including the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015 proposed by Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), they are all about parental rights but only empower students once they turn 18. I was pleased to see danah boyd weigh-in (all links below) on this subject, which I’ve been speaking about for several months but hadn’t yet gotten around to writing about. Student intellectual property rights As I said at a recent White House meeting with staff from the  Office of Science and Technology Policy and at a recent Berkman Center student privacy event, we need to craft legislation that also protects students’ rights to their own data. That not only means that students should have the right to protect their privacy but also the right to retain their data and intellectual property to use as they wish at any time in their lives. Most of the existing and proposed legislation gives parents the right to control student data until the [...] Continue reading

Moral panics amidst French media reports of kids disappearing for three days in “Game of 72″
The French English-language news site, The Local, is reporting about a supposed game where “teenagers have come up with a new Facebook challenge that dares them disappear without a trace for up to three days without contacting their family.” The site reports that a 13-year old girl named Emma from northern France went missing for three days but turned up safe. The site says that the girl reported told authority that she had taken on a dare to play the “Game of 72″ (as in disappearing for 72 hours). The site said that French authorities have been unable to find actual Facebook postings about the game. Fears are spreading even if the game isn’t While the extent to which the game actually exist remains in doubt, that hasn’t stopped police authorities and media outlets from raising alarms.  The Canadian Global News site reports that police in Vancouver, BC are warning parents about the game, which, according to the site, requires that kids not “tell anyone where they are and the more mayhem and panic that is caused, the more points that teen is awarded.” Vancouver police are not aware of any actual cases of the game. British tabloid, Mirror, speculates [...] Continue reading

Teen Health and Wellness

Most Teen Football Concussions Occur During Practice
A new study of football-playing youths ages 5 to 23 found that most concussions do not occur during gameplay. Instead, a majority (58 percent) of concussions for high school and college football players happened during practice. Since practice is a more controlled environment than a game, researchers believe schools can do more to prevent concussions during this time, such as by limiting player-to-player contact. Teen concussions have consequences, from dizziness and hearing loss to long-term trouble with memory and learning.

A Breakthrough in Treating HIV
In its first trial in human subjects, a new HIV treatment has been proven to dramatically reduce the HIV virus in the blood. The treatment uses antibodies, disease-fighting proteins that naturally produced by the immune system. A single dose of the antibodies reduced the presence of HIV in test subjects for nearly a month. Doctors hope the antibodies will lead to a new class of HIV-fighting drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,000 teens and young adults contract HIV every month. Nearly two-thirds do not even know they are infected.

Dangers of Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol
The National Institutes of Health estimates more than 850,000 teens have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is better known as alcoholism: excessive drinking and dependence on alcohol that makes sufferers a danger to themselves and others. A new study has found one thing greatly increases a teen’s risk of the disorder: mixing alcohol and caffeine-rich energy drinks. Doing so makes a teen four times more likely to develop alcoholism, and also more likely to binge drink. One in ten teens ages 15 to 17 has mixed alcohol and energy drinks.

White House Calls for Conversion Therapy Ban
President Barack Obama’s administration has called for an end to “conversion therapy,” or therapy designed to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of gay, lesbian, or transgender youth. The proposed ban would be named Leelah’s law after Leelah Alcorn, a 17-year-old transgender student who committed suicide after undergoing conversion therapy. The administration says, “The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.” The American Psychiatric Association and many other medical organizations oppose conversion therapy.