youth

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Schools in Connecticut and across the nation are reporting a consistent rise in the number of students with mental health issues, and an increase in the complexity and severity of problems. This week, WNPR focuses attention on a particularly troubling condition: self-injury.

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A judge has ruled a 17-year-old Connecticut girl who was forced to undergo chemotherapy by the state must remain in the temporary custody of the Department of Children and Families until her treatments are finished.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Advocates for juveniles want the state legislature to repeal a rarely used law that allows Connecticut's Department of Children and Families to request a youth be transferred to an adult prison. 

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In her latest book, Burning Down the House, journalist and author Nell Bernstein explores the dark side of America’s juvenile justice system. Through the eye-opening stories of incarcerated youths, she argues that it’s time to shut down the nation’s juvenile prisons once and for all.

While most teenagers recognize that texting while driving is a bad idea, they may be less clear about the risk of other activities – like changing clothes.

Twenty-seven percent of teens say they sometimes change clothes and shoes while driving, a study finds. They also reported that they often change contact lenses, put on makeup and do homework behind the wheel.

Jackie Fortin

A 17-year-old Connecticut girl who was forced to undergo chemotherapy by the state testified at a closed-door hearing on Monday. She and her mother are seeking her release from state custody.

Ricky Aponte / Creative Commons

More young people are moving to the heart of cities, according to a report from think tank City Observatory. This includes cities that we usually think of as “economically troubled,” like Buffalo, Cleveland, and, yes, even Hartford. Some of these cities have been losing their overall population, but gaining in their numbers of college graduates in their 20s and 30s.

A report in The New York Times said the number of college-educated people moving to city centers has surged, up 37 percent since 2000, even while their populations have shrunk slightly. What’s behind that trend, and is it happening in Connecticut?

WNPR/David DesRoches

The frigid February air stings Odane Campbell as he slogs across ice and snow toward the bus stop. Huddling with friends, the only thing to do is hope the bus isn't late this morning.

It's moments like this when the 18-year-old realizes how far away from Jamaica he actually is.

"Jamaica is not this cold out there," he said. "It's like pretty warm, like summer all the time."

Jackie Fortin

A Connecticut teen who refused chemotherapy to treat a curable cancer is now in remission. But her attorney said she's still fighting a court order that has her in the temporary custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

For the past few months, NPR has been telling stories of the millennial generation — the largest and most diverse cohort in American history. To help give them a face, we asked 18- to 34-year-olds to take a selfie. (Groanworthy, I know. Stay with me.)

Tara Baker Photograhy

In a music field crowded with singer-songwriters, Connecticut up-and-comer Connor Wallowitz is a little different. Sure, he has the requisite following on Facebook and YouTube, and a well-received debut album. But what makes Connor unique is that he's only 13 years old.

Wallowitz has written about 30 songs so far, five in the last month alone, and is gaining fans and accolades for his debut CD, Bleeding Colors. The CD was released last fall, and Connor is hard at work on what he hopes will be his follow-up album.

What’s the Hardest Part About Being a Teen?

Jan 30, 2015
Chion Wolf / WNPR

Some things teenagers have to deal with just don’t change. Heartbreak, hormones, heightened social anxiety -- it's all just part of the package. 

But things that are unique to the 2015 teen experience -- social media, texting, and ephemeral messaging -- take regular teen issues to a whole new level. This isn’t breaking news, but teens are saying that adults still don’t fully get it. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s not easy being a teenager today. Teens need to do well in school, give back to the community, participate in extracurricular activities, and keep up with a social scene intensified by social media. We also ask them to act responsibly, make good choices, and think about their future.

We're looking for "adult behavior" from people forced to live under our rules. It's a tough balancing act that comes with a lot of pressure.  

Sometimes, their friends are looking for something different and peer pressure can lead to bad decisions and risky behaviors.

It may not sound like they have to deal with much -- but that’s part of the problem. Adults have a tendency to underestimate what teens feel, and how powerfully they feel it.

And if kids have friends, don’t get in trouble, and get pretty good grades, parents and teachers don’t always notice the kids struggling to cope with emotions hidden beneath the surface.

The World Health Organization says depression is the most common cause of illness and disability for teens between 10 and 19 years old and suicide is the third most common cause of death in adolescents...just behind traffic accidents.

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WNPR has an experimental radio project and we want you to get involved. The idea is simple: we provide a theme; you call our hotline and tell a story.

The theme: What's so hard about being a teen?

On Friday, January 30, WNPR's Where We Live will talk about the challenges of being a teenager.

Ricky Aponte / Creative Commons

More young people are moving to the heart of cities, according to a report from think tank City Observatory. This includes cities that we usually think of as “economically troubled,” like Buffalo, Cleveland, and, yes, even Hartford. Some of these cities have been losing their overall population, but gaining in their numbers of college graduates in their 20s and 30s.

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The story of Cassandra C, 17, dominated national headlines after she refused treatment for a curable cancer. The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with a lower court decision that the Department of Children and Families can retain temporary custody of the girl, and force her to undergo chemotherapy. We hear from Cassandra's attorney about next steps for her.

We also talk with medical experts about informed consent. Should Cassandra and other minor patients like her be forced to undergo treatment?

Jackie Fortin

Cassandra C, 17, is being forced by the state to undergo chemotherapy treatment for her Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Under a court order, DCF has had temporary custody of Cassandra since mid-December.

DCF now says it is exploring other options for her while she continues treatment. Cassandra's next chemotherapy treatment won't happen for several weeks, so she may be allowed to leave the hospital and live in a group home. While there, she would continue to receive other treatments DCF says she needs.

Cassandra's attorney, Joshua Michtom, said on WNPR's Where We Live that Cassandra is in her hospital room with someone at guard at all times. For her, he said, being anywhere other than her one room in the hospital would be preferable.

David DesRoches

Nate Quesnel, the superintendent of schools in East Hartford, told a story about a student sitting in the back of the classroom, a wool cap pulled over his eyebrows, his faced glued to a cell phone, his fingers attacking the screen in a gaming frenzy.

"Right away, I recoiled inside," Quesnel said. "I felt embarrassed." He was embarrassed because at the time, an executive from Xerox was presenting the students with information on job skills, including how to act during an interview.

The Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that 17-year-old Cassandra could be forced to undergo cancer treatment sparked thousands of impassioned comments on NPR.org and Facebook.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

In a swift ruling on Thursday, the Connecticut Supreme Court decided that a teen recently diagnosed with cancer can't refuse life-saving chemotherapy.

According to the ruling, state officials are not violating the teen's rights by forcing her to undergo chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma. The teen, known as Cassandra C, will be free to make her own medical decisions when she turns 18 in September.

For the past month, Cassandra has been held at a local hospital, undergoing chemotherapy treatment against her wishes. Doctors said chemotherapy would give her an 85 percent chance of survival and without the treatment, she could die.

Update at 3:05 ET: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday afternoon that the state can require Cassandra to continue treatment.

Her mother, Jackie Fortin, said she's disappointed by the decision. "She knows I love her and I'm going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision," Fortin said. "I know more than anyone, more than DCF, that my daughter is old enough, mature enough to make a decision. If she wasn't, I'd be making that decision."

Here's our original story, reported Thursday morning:

Sodanie Chea / Creative Commons

A study from Yale School of Medicine said a quarter of high school students in Connecticut have tried an electronic cigarette. 

Thin Mints, Do-si-dos and Samoas just became easier to buy: Girl Scouts will now be able to use Digital Cookies to sell the treats online.

"Girls have been telling us that they want to go into this space," said Sarah Angel-Johnson, chief digital cookie executive for the Girl Scouts of the USA. "Online is where entrepreneurship is going."

Her comments were reported by The Associated Press.

Ricky Aponte / Creative Commons

More young people are moving to the heart of cities, according to a report from think tank City Observatory. This includes cities that we usually think of as “economically troubled,” like Buffalo, Cleveland, and, yes, even Hartford. Some of these cities have been losing their overall population, but gaining in their numbers of college graduates in their 20s and 30s.

Flushing International High School is like a teenage version of the United Nations. Walk down the hallway and you can meet students from Colombia, China, Ecuador, Bangladesh and South Korea.

"Our students come from about 40 different countries, speak 20 different languages," says Lara Evangelista, the school's principal.

With schools around the country scrambling to educate the more than 57,000 unaccompanied child migrants who've crossed the border this year, I came to see what lessons International Schools like this one can offer.

For most of New York, Rikers Island is out of sight and out of mind. It's in the middle of the East River between Queens and the Bronx. There's only one unmarked bridge that leads on and off. But a recent report on violence by correction officers, or COs, was no surprise to those who've spent time there.

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

They are a class of self-centered, self-absorbed, selfie-snapping 20-somethings. This is how many critics have come to define the millennial generation.

But hold on, isn't this what was said about every generation when it was young? Minus the selfies of course.

Some scholars argue that millennials aren't entitled — they just have more time to be themselves.

Markers Of Adulthood

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.

In the U.S., people born between 1980 and 2000 now outnumber baby boomers, and their numbers are still growing because of immigration. This generation is already shaping American life, and in a series of stories — largely reported by millennials themselves — NPR will explore how this New Boom is transforming the country.

There are more millennials in America right now than baby boomers — more than 80 million of us.

For 14-year-old Yashua Cantillano, life in New Orleans is an improvement.

But that's not saying much.

Just three months ago, Yashua was in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, dodging gang members. He says they would drive by his school, guns visible, threatening to kill him, his younger brother — Yashua's whole family.

"We'd hide all day," Yashua says, "and that kept us from going to school."

After crossing the U.S. border illegally, he came to New Orleans and ultimately enrolled at Carver Prep, a small charter school on the city's east side.

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