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Did you know that the most popular video games could be harmful for youth’s growth?

"Video games reinforce racial stereotype eighty-six percent of all video-game protagonists are white men, leaving non-white men to be portrayed stereotypically. According to a study by Children Now, seven out of the 10 Asian characters are fighters, and eight out of 10 African Americans are sports competitors. Nine out of 10 African-American women were victims of violence, which is twice the rate of white women. Seventy-nine percent of African-American men were shown as verbally and physically aggressive, compared to 57 percent of white men."

Racial Stereotyping

black basketball playerWhile people of many cultures play video games, that diversity is not usually reflected in the games themselves. White male characters dominate in the majority of popular games, while non-white characters often play the traditional supporting roles of sidekick or villain.

A 2001 study, Fair Play? Violence, Gender and Race in Video Games, from the US-based organization Children Now, examined a selection of the most popular games for the seven different game systems. It found that depictions of African American, Asian, Hispanic and Native American males were rare and white female characters outnumbered female characters of every racial group.

The majority of heroes were white males (86%) while non-white males were generally portrayed in stereotypical roles. Eight out of ten African American males were portrayed as competitors in sports games. Latinos only appeared in sports games, most of them baseball and seven out of ten Asian characters were portrayed as fighters or wrestlers.

Nearly nine out of ten (86%) African American females were victims of violence in the games that were surveyed. Their victimization rate was almost twice that of white females. In sports games, eight out of ten (79%) African American males engaged in physical and verbal aggression compared to only 57% of white competitors.

The interactivity of video games makes them a powerful medium for the negative messages that stereotypes can convey. Talking to children about racial stereotypes will help. Talk to them about what a stereotype is, why game developers use them, how racial stereotypes influence the way we perceive people from different ethnic backgrounds, and what steps can be taken to challenge negative portrayals.

By refusing to purchase or rent games that contain racial and gender stereotyping, consumers can send a powerful message to the industry. Raising awareness of the effect negative stereotyping could have on their bottom line may influence game developers to become more sensitive to negative portrayals in their games.

Source:  Media Awareness Network (MNet).  The MNet promotes critical thinking in young people about the media. MNet is a Canadian non-profit organization that has been pioneering the development of media literacy programs since its incorporation in 1996. Members of our team have backgrounds in education, journalism, mass communications, and cultural policy. Working out of offices in Ottawa and Montreal, we promote media and Internet education by producing online programs and resources, working in partnership with Canadian and international organizations, and speaking to audiences across Canada and around the world.

  Dayton Ohio’s youngest AFM member
                (See him at the Apollo Feb 21, 2004 )

(International Musician) – Denzel Hollis, 8-years-old and in the 3rd-grade, is the youngest full-fledged member of Local 101-473 (Dayton OH).

At first glance, drummer Hollis two-page resume reads like a listing of typical jazz player’s experience: half-dozen regular jazz gigs, participation in various local jazz festivals, and an appearance at New York City Legendary Apollo Theater.

“I love drumming,” said Hollis, taking a break from playing video games to answer a few questions.  “It’s what I do, and what I want to keep on doing,” he said.

Hollis recently traveled as a drummer with a Dayton-based youth group, the Serious Young Musicians.  The group played in a jazz concert at the Apollo in Harlem in September 2003.  He says the concert was one of the highlights of his career.

“It made me very excited, because it was one of my life’s dreams,” said Hollis, adding that not many people get the opportunity to play in a famous place like the Apollo Theater.  He said he was also very aware of the famous musicians who had played on that same stage.  “It makes me feel very proud.”

Hollis has reason to feel proud.  He’s been drumming since the age of two, has played in local churches since he age of four, and in addition to his musical accomplishments, he’s been an honor roll student at Valerie Elementary School every year since kindergarten.  He balances his school work with lessons at a local music school, an easy feat according to his mother Vernice Butler.  “Denzel is a wonderfully focused boy, and he handles responsibility well,” says Butler , who seldom has to remind her son to do his homework.

“I know my grades come first, always,” said Hollis.  “Only after my schoolwork is done then I’ll think about drums.”

Hollis found out about the Federation last year through Local 101-473.  “The musicians’ union sent me a copy of the International Musician,” said Hollis.  “I read it and it made me think that maybe I should join,” he said.

“Our main goal here is to get more young members into the Federation,” said Local 101-473 president Don Sutton.  He believes the AFM can benefit positively from the fresh ideas and perspectives that younger members can contribute.  To that end, he says that two other Dayton area players joined the local as AFM youth members along with Hollis.

 “’All three came to a membership meeting and talked about the experience they had at the Apollo.’  ‘Afterwards, they observed how the meeting went, and upon joining, they were also able to vote at the last election,’” said Sutton.

Sutton says it’s important to help these younger members safeguard their professional futures.  “Our job is to teach them about agreements, and why they should record under union contracts.  Much of this education can come from the local,” he adds.  “In fact, many of the parents have already asked about the Apollo theater performance because the kids were required to sign a contract.  It’s our job to check up and make sure they get proper remuneration if this is the case.”

For Hollis, these are important aspects that could lay the successful groundwork for a quickly blossoming performing career.  Union membership will also help give him increased exposure, something he knows he needs if he’s to realize his self-professed ambition to “be the world’s greatest drummer.  I know it’s important to meet other musicians like me,” says Hollis.

Know Your Rights

Are you in trouble at school?
Have you been suspended or expelled?
Have you been arrested?
Want to learn more about the law?
Speak Your Mind

The following information have been provided by The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) information center.  CJCJ is a private non-profit organization with a mission to reduce reliance on incarceration as a solution to social problems.

Are you in trouble at school?

What is suspension?
A suspension is when a student is removed temporarily from school. In most cases a suspension cannot be for more than five days. The only exception is if the student is recommended for expulsion. If this happens, the student can be suspended until the hearing if it has been determined after a meeting with the student's parents that the student causes an ongoing threat.

What is an expulsion?
An expulsion is when a student is prohibited from attending any school in the district. If a student is expelled, he or she must be allowed to apply for readmittance no later than the end of the semester after the incident occurred (or one year after, if the incident was possession of a firearm).

Can I be suspended or expelled for any reason?
NO! You must have committed one of the following acts below in order to be suspended:

  • Causing, attempting, or threatening physical injury or purposefully using force or violence upon another (except in self-defense).
  • Possessing, selling, or otherwise furnishing any firearm, knife, explosive, or any other dangerous object without written permission of a certified school employee and concurrence by the principal or principal's designee.
  • Possessing, selling, using, or being under the influence of a controlled substance, an alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant of any kind.
  • Offering, arranging, or regulating the sale of any controlled substance, an alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant of any kind and the selling or delivering of any controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant of any kind.
  • Committing robbery, attempted robbery, or extortion.
  • Causing or attempting to cause damage to school property or private property.
  • Stealing or attempting to steal school property or private property
  • Possession or use of non-presribed tobacco or products which contain tobacco or nicotine.
  • Committing an obscene act, or engaging in habitual profanity or vulgarity.
  • Possessing, offering, arranging, or negotiating the sale any drug paraphernalia.
  • Disrupting school activities or purposefully defying the valid authority of school authorities engaged in the performance of their duties.
  • Knowingly receiving stolen school property or private property.
  • Possessing an imitation firearm.
  • Committing or attempting to commit sexual assault or battery of staff or a student.
  • Harassing, threatening, or intimidating a student who is a witness in a school disciplinary proceeding in order to prevent the student from being a witness or to retaliate against the student for being a witness.
  • Committing sexual harassment which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have negative impact upon the individual's academic performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.
  • Causing, attempting to cause, or threatening to cause an act of hate violence.
  • Intentionally engaging in severe and pervasive on-going harassment, threats and/or intimidation directed at a student or group of students which has the actual and reasonably expected effect of materially disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder, and invalidating the rights of the student or group of students by creating and intimidating or hostile educational environment
  • Making terroristic threats against school authorities or school property.

You CANNOT be suspended for being late or absent from school.
You CANNOT be suspended unless the act was related to a school activity.

What are the limitations on suspensions?
Schools can only suspend if other means of correction have failed. That means, the school must try other ways to solve the problem before turning to suspension. The exception is if you were suspended under one of the first five grounds listed above, or if your presence causes threat.

What are the limitations on expulsions?
If you commit a "zero tolerance" offense the school board must expel you. Those offenses are: possession of a firearm, drug sales, brandishing a knife and sexual assault. If you are being recommended for any other reason you cannot be expelled unless the school board finds that other means of correction are not feasible or have repeatedly failed or that you are a continuing threat to the physical safety of yourself or others. Even for a zero tolerance offense, the board can order a "suspended expulsion" which means you are on probation, but you can return to school.

Before I am suspended, will I have an opportunity to tell my side of the story?
Yes! Before any student is suspended, the principal, the principal designee, or the superintendent of schools must conduct a conference with the student and, whenever practicable, with the teacher, supervisor, or school employee who referred the student for suspension. At the conference, the student must be told of the reason for the proposed suspension and the evidence against him or her and must be given the opportunity to present his or her version and evidence in his or her defense.

The only time a student is not entitled to a conference right away is when an "emergency situation" exists which means the student present "clear and present danger to the life, safety, or health of students or school personnel." If a student is suspended for this reason whithout a conference the school must notify both the student and his or her parent/guardian/caregiver of the student's right to a conference and right to return to school for the purpose of the conference within two days.

If I am suspended, can my parents meet with the principal?
Yes! At the time of the suspension, a school employee must make a reasonable effort to contact the parent or guardian in person or by telephone. Whenever a student is suspended from school, the parent or guardian must also be notified in writing of the suspension. The school must give your parents the opportunity to come in and discuss the suspension. However, schools cannot punish you or keep you out of school if your parent or guardian does not attend the conference.

What are my rights if I am recommended for expulsion?
You can only be expelled by the school board. You can only be expelled after a hearing. You have the right to:

  • Notice of the hearing ten days before which tells you exactly what you are being expelled for;
  • Look at all documents being used at the hearing, before the hearing;
  • Bring your own witness to the hearing and/or ask that the district subpoena (forces them to come) witnesses for you;
  • Question any witness that the school brings to the hearing;
  • Bring a lawyer or other advocate;
  • Appeal the board decision if the hearing was not conducted fairly.

NOTE: Expulsions are VERY serious. You may want to have a lawyer. Legal Services for Children may be able to find you a free lawyer.

This information was prepared and provided by Legal Services for Children.
For assistance, please call (415) 863-3762.

Have you been suspended or expelled?

Many students and parents are often unaware of basic rights in an expulsion or suspension. The following are basic steps that should be taken by the school when a suspension or expulsion occurs.


  1. Prior to Suspension:
    An informal conference between the principal or superintendent and the student must take place. If there is a "clear and present danger", the conference must be held within 2 school days.
  2. At Time of Suspension:
    The school must 1) make a reasonable effort to telephone parent; 2) send written notice of suspension to parent; and 3) report suspension to school board.
  3. Depending on district policy, school district officials may conduct a meeting with parents to discuss suspension. Contact your school district to find out.
  4. Length of Suspension
    Suspension can be no longer than 5 consecutive school days unless it is determined [pursuant to § 48911(g)] that the presence of the student would cause a danger to persons or property.


  1. Principal recommends expulsion to school board [for § 48900 act]
  2. 10 days prior to the hearing, a written notice must be sent to the student.
  3. Within 30 days of commission of act, there must be an expulsion hearing before the school board.
  4. 3 Days after the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer or administrative panel recommends whether or not to expel.
  5. Within 10 school days after the hearing, the school board is to make a decision to expel r suspend expulsion for up to ONE YEAR.
  6. A written notice of expulsion or suspension of expulsion must be sent to the student.
  7. Within 30 days of the school board's decision, the student may appeal the expulsion.
  8. If appealed, within 20 days of the appeal the County Board of Education holds a hearing.
  9. A notice of final order of the County Board of Education is sent to the student and the school board
  10. Decision of the Country Board of Education is Final

Source: Suspension and Expulsion Manual, Legal Services for Children & Pacific Juvenile Defender Center
February 2001

Have you been arrested?

By D. Vargas & V. Ortiz
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
In the event you get in trouble or are accused of a crime; the following are your rights according to law.

Statement of Rights
Before you answer any questions or make any statements, you must fully understand the following rights:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
    This means, you do not have to answer any questions that an officer of the law may ask you at the time of arrest, except for basic identifying information such as your name, address, and how to get in touch with your parents. You do not have to answer any questions about the crime in which you are arrested for. You do not have to answer any questions at the time of arrest and after you are taken into custody, you can remain silent.
  2. Do you understand this right?
    If you answer yes, this means you fully understand this right. You can answer no, and if you do not understand this right, say so. Let the arresting officer explain this right to you in terms you understand.
  3. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
    This means that anything said after you are given this right can and will be used as evidence against you when you go to court.
  4. Do you understand this right?
    If you answer yes, this again means you understand, you can answer no.
  5. You have a right to talk with a lawyer before you are questioned or make any statements and to have him/her present during this questioning.
    This means you have every right to ask for a lawyer at any time while you are being held. You do not have to answer any questions that law enforcement asks you without a lawyer present. As long as you ask the officer, you want one. Please remember that this right is for your protection and it is important that you have legal representation at this stage.
  6. Do you understand this right?
    Again, yes means you understand and if you speak without having a lawyer with you, it can be held against you when you go into court. If you answer no, have them explain this to you until you understand this right. A lawyer is there to protect your rights and will give you legal advice, when to answer a question or when not to answer a question.
  7. If you cannot pay for a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before questioning is commenced or any time during the questioning, if you so desire.
    This means, if your family is unable to pay for an attorney they must appoint one to represent you at all stages. Which means, you have a right to a lawyer from the time you are arrested through all court proceedings to represent you regardless of your family's ability to pay for one or not.
  8. Do you understand this right?
    Again, you can either say yes or no. By saying yes, you are telling the officer you understand. You can say no. The best thing is to ask to speak with a lawyer.
  9. Do you understand each of the rights that I have just explained to you?
    This means you understand all the questions that the police officer has asked you. Again, if you say yes, this means you know your rights, you can say no and have him explain all of these rights again.
  10. Do you give up your right at this time to remain silent?
    Yes means you will answer any and all questions that law enforcement will asked you regarding the crime you have been arrested for and your answers will be used as evidence against you when you go into court.
  11. Do you give up your right to consult with a lawyer before you answer any questions or make any statements?
    This means by giving up this right law enforcement does not have to provide you with a lawyer before questioning. They can bring you into the police station and question you about the crime for which you are arrested for. Remember, at any time, you can refuse to answer any questions and request a lawyer.
  12. Do you give up your right to have a lawyer appointed for you before any questioning?
    Yes means you are giving up your right to have a attorney present when law enforcement starts to ask you questions about the crime in which you were arrested for. Remember it is your right to have an attorney present at all times and at all stages.

Want to learn more about the law?

Want to learn more about the law?
[Kids & the Law]

Speak Your Mind

Speak Your Mind

[What is it like in juvenile hall or CYA? -from youth who have been incarcerated!]

  • If you’ve ever been arrested or in juvenile hall or a group home, what was it like?
  • How could the juvenile justice system change to make it work better?
  • If you came back home, what was it like living with your family or going to school again?
  • What would be the best way to stop kids from committing crimes?

[Find out how youth are fighting against a bigger juvenile hall in Alameda County – and winning!]

[Find out about youth organizations involved in juvenile justice issues]


Last updated:  April 5, 2004


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