Heart, Mind, Body & Soul: Adolescence in the Information Age

Please click here to download a pdf version of Dr. Arredondo’s presentation.

Ancient Wisdom Modern Neuroscience


A Non-Profit Helping Children and their Families.

The Children’s Program is funded by:

The David & Lucille Packard Foundation,

The California Endowment,

The Stuart Foundation,

The San Francisco Foundation,

The Michelson Foundation

and private donations.

Ancient Wisdom Meets Moden Neuroscience – Part 2

Empowering Relational Connections within Organizations

Presented by First 5 Santa Clary County, CA with Dr. David Arredondo

Ancient Wisdom Meets Moden Neuroscience – Part 1

Empowering Relational Connections within Organizations

Presented by First 5 Santa Clary County, CA with Dr. David Arredondo

U.S. Supreme Court Bans Mandatory Life-Without-Parole Sentences for Children Convicted of Homicide

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued an historic ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger convicted of homicide are unconstitutional. Kuntrell Jackson and Evan Miller, sentenced to life in prison without parole at 14, are now entitled to new sentencing hearings. Today’s ruling will affect hundreds of individuals whose sentences did not take their age or other mitigating factors into account.

The Court today struck down statutes in 29 states that provide for mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children, reasoning that mandatory imposition of life-without-parole sentences on children “contravenes Graham’s (and also Roper’s) foundational principle: that imposition of a State’s most severe penalties on juvenile offenders cannot proceed as though they were not children.”

“This is an important win for children. The Court took a significant step forward by recognizing the fundamental unfairness of mandatory death-in-prison sentences that don’t allow sentencers to consider the unique status of children and their potential for change,” said Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who represents Jackson and Miller. “The Court has recognized that children need additional attention and protection in the criminal justice system.”

Today’s decision requires the lower courts to conduct new sentencing hearings where judges will have to consider children’s individual characters and life circumstances, including age, as well as the circumstances of the crime.

While the Court did not categorically ban juvenile life without parole in all circumstances, Justice Kagan wrote for the majority that, “given all that we have said in RoperGraham, and this decision about children’s diminished culpability, and heightened capacity for change, we think appropriate occasions for sentencing juveniles to this harshest possible penalty will be uncommon.”

Stevenson cautioned, however, that sentencing courts’ discretion must be exercised in an informed and thoughtful way that acknowledges that children are biologically different than adults and less responsible for their wrongdoing, and that the courts should provide the individuals affected by the ruling a meaningful opportunity to show they have rehabilitated themselves and are appropriate candidates for release.

Stevenson added that historically, race and poverty have been powerful forces in influencing which children receive life-without-parole sentences.

Today’s decision follows the Court’s earlier rulings in Roper v. Simmons (2005) and Graham v. Florida (2010), which acknowledge the diminished culpability of children.

Groups as diverse as the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Psychiatric Association, the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, the American Bar Association, mental health professionals, former juvenile court judges, criminologists, victims, and national advocacy organizations filed amicus briefs in the cases to urge the Court to give children an opportunity to have their sentences reviewed later in life.

Click here to read more.

U.S. students suffering from Internet addiction: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Crackberry is no joke.

American college students are hooked on cellphones, social media and the Internet and showing symptoms similar to drug and alcohol addictions, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Maryland who asked 200 students to give up all media for one full day found that after 24 hours many showed signs of withdrawal, craving and anxiety along with an inability to function well without their media and social links.

Susan Moeller, the study’s project director and a journalism professor at the university, said many students wrote about how they hated losing their media connections, which some equated to going without friends and family.

“I clearly am addicted and the dependency is sickening,” said one student. “Between having a Blackberry, a laptop, a television, and an iPod, people have become unable to shed their media skin.”

Moeller said students complained most about their need to use text messages, instant messages, e-mail and Facebook.

“Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort,” wrote one of the students, who blogged about their reactions. “When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life.”

Few students reported watching TV news or reading a newspaper.

The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize so-called Internet addiction as a disorder.

But it seems to be an affliction of modern life. In one extreme example in South Korea reported by the media, a couple allegedly neglected their three-month-old daughter, who died of malnutrition, because they were on the computer for up to 12 hours a day raising a virtual child.

In the United States a small private U.S. center called ReSTART, located near Redmond, Washington, opened last year in the shadow of computer giant Microsoft to treat excessive use of the Internet, video gaming and texting.

The center’s website cites various examples of students who ran up large debts or dropped out of college due to their obsession.

Students in the Maryland study also showed no loyalty to news programs, a news personality or news platform. They maintained a casual relationship to news brands, and rarely distinguished between news and general information.

“They care about what is going on among their friends and families and even in the world at large,” said Ph.D. student Raymond McCaffrey who worked on the study. Loyalty “does not seemed tied to any single device or application or news outlet.”

(Reporting by Walden Siew; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

A Better Shock And Awe

From The New York Times, published: November 27, 2009:

EARLIER this month at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Military Appreciation game, Brandon Becar, 11, and relatives proudly stood on the football field in front of 45,000 people. The stadium’s giant video screen flashed a prerecorded greeting from his father, stationed in Iraq. Brandon grinned and flexed his muscle.

Suddenly the crowd roared. Brandon turned, bewildered. Dashing across the field toward him came a figure in fatigues: Maj. Kevin Becar, surprising his son with an early two-week leave. “We both totally zoned out where we were,” Major Becar recalled. “He was just bawling, and we melted into each others’ arms.”

Read this and weep. Go ahead. It’s that season. And these surprise military homecoming tales are the definition of heartwarming.

Read the whole article here.


The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world’s largest association of psychologists. APA’s membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare.

WASHINGTON—A 16-year-old might be quite capable of making an informed decision about whether to end a pregnancy – a decision likely to be made after due consideration and consultation with an adult – but this same adolescent may not possess the maturity to be held to adult levels of responsibility if she commits a violent crime, according to new research into adolescent psychological development.

“Adolescents likely possess the necessary intellectual skills to make informed choices about terminating a pregnancy but may lack the social and emotional maturity to control impulses, resist peer pressure and fully appreciate the riskiness of dangerous decisions,” said Laurence Steinberg, PhD, a professor of developmental psychology at Temple University and lead author of the study. “This immaturity mitigates their criminal responsibility.”

Youth Prison Model Sets High Bar

California Passes Law to Move More Adult Inmates to Counties, as It Did With Juveniles
Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2009

After recent changes to California’s juvenile-prison system brought down recidivism rates and the number of incarcerated youths, and also saved millions of dollars, the state is now aiming to treat its adult prisoners more like youthful offenders.

Overall, the recidivism rate for juvenile offenders in California communities that track such statistics has fallen to 25% from nearly 35% since 2007, according to the Chief Probation Officers of California, an industry association. California’s juvenile crime rate also declined between 2007 and 2008, with violent offenses committed by juveniles falling 3% in that period, the state Department of Justice reported.

“There’s plenty to learn from how we improved the juvenile system,” said state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Democrat who as a former chairwoman of the corrections-oversight committee supported overhauling the juvenile-prison system.

Report: State Juvenile Correctional Facilities Lack Mental Health Services

Cindy Rodriguez of WNYC:

The report by the Center for New York City Affairs says state run facilities don’t have a single psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse on staff who can prescribe medication or monitor children on psychotropic drugs. Instead, facilities rely on clinicians from nearby hospitals who make weekly short visits.

As a result, the report says untrained and overworked employees often resort to violent or aggressive tactics. John Ruiz, board member of the Public Employees Federation, the union that represents workers, says the system is in chaos and more professional staff are needed.

Recently, the Department of Justice investigated these upstate facilities and found widespread abuse. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services says it’s currently negotiating a settlement with them and can’t comment on the report.

Coming Out in Middle School

The New York Times recently delved into the issue of junior high school students coming out, the support they’re getting and the obstacles they still face. Some thought-provoking excerpts:

“Just how they’re faring in a world that wasn’t expecting them — and that isn’t so sure a 12-year-old can know if he’s gay — is a complicated question that defies simple geographical explanations.”

“The challenging school experience of so many gay and lesbian students — and the suicides last spring of a sixth grader in Massachusetts and a fifth grader in Georgia, both of whom were relentlessly bullied at school for appearing gay — reinforces the longtime narrative of gay youth in crisis.”

“All of this fluidity, confusion and experimentation can be understandably disorienting for parents and educators. Is an eighth grader who says he’s gay just experimenting? Could he change his mind in a week, as 13-year-olds routinely do with other identities — skater, prep, goth, jock — they try on for a while and then shed for another? And if sexuality is so fluid, should he really box himself in with a gay identity? Many parents told me they especially struggled with that last question.”