Biased Reporting

I am writing in regard to Jen Russell’s article, “Teen Births Rise Again – What Does It Mean?” in your April issue. I was happy to read a thorough recap of the ChildTrends report, but was confused by the insertion of the reporter’s opinion in a piece obviously meant to be a journalistic review of a research report.

I am referring to the sentence, “On the other hand, abstinence education supporters say the increase in the teen birth rate shows the need to promote sexual abstinence as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy.” I am especially troubled because this sentence was included in a paragraph that was itemizing highlights from the ChildTrends’ report, but this sentence was certainly not in the report.

If this piece was on the opinion page, I would understand the inclusion of this statement, although I would still disagree with its placement. But since this was supposedly an unbiased news story, it did not belong.

Brigid Riley, Executive Director

Minnesota Organization on Adolescent

Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting

St. Paul, Minn.

Editor’s Note: The comment was intended to balance criticism of abstinence-only education, but we regret if it looked as if the comment came from the report.

The comments below are some of the online responses to “Zero Tolerance Breeds Zero Justice,” published in Youth Today in April and expanded upon at http://www.youthtoday.org.

First, I’d like to congratulate Youth Today on its coverage of the Luzerne County scandal. The review of events in John Kelly’s story is excellent (and horrifying).

Second, judicially controlled systems are not inherently worse than executive-controlled systems. Either can be great, and either can be abusive. The keys to quality have always been sufficient resources, able leadership, strong management, enlightened policy and, perhaps most of all, transparency.

The shocker in the Luzerne County story is that it took so long for something to happen, when so many people were apparently screaming about it for years. Thank you, Juvenile Law Center.

Jeffrey Butts

Executive Vice President for Research

Public/Private Ventures


This is an outstanding summary of the implications of the Luzerne scandal. My worry all along has been that people – especially people who only intermittently pay attention to juvenile justice and don’t know a whole lot about it – will take away the wrong lessons and impose “solutions” (sentencing guidelines, more state-centralized control, fewer private alternatives) that will make matters worse. Thanks for calling attention to that possibility.

Patrick Griffin

Sr. Research Associate

National Center for Juvenile Justice




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