Poverty and race play into state child welfare system

31 05 2011

By Kyle Kim

Editors note: the story was originally published for the May 10 print issue of The Whitworthian. You can access both the issue and online edition here.

Native American children represent 7 percent of Washington State’s child population and are roughly five times more likely to be victims of abuse or neglect compared to white children, according to data from Child Protective Services. Statewide, Native American children are three times more likely to be referred to child welfare than their white counterparts.

Census figures show the city of Spokane alone holds the eighth-largest Native American population in the nation.

Alaska native Tara Dowd, who grew up in Washington’s child welfare system for most of her early life, said there’s a saying among foster kids: those who make it out call each other alumni.

“An alumni means you’ve earned something,” Dowd said. “I’ve lost more than I’ve gained in the child welfare system.”
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I almost got punched in the face by a homeless man

17 11 2009

"People don't realize how close they are to becoming homeless," Sid Underwood (right), 19, said. Both Underwood and Leonard Costa (left), 19, have both been homeless for six years. Underwood said she has become accustomed to street life.

…but I was saved by a former street kid who was with me (note to self: don’t ask personal questions to an intoxicated homeless man that is about twice your size).

Last week I spent an accumulated 14 hours on the streets of downtown Spokane to talk to homeless teens. After spending a week researching on the subject, I thought it was about time that I got face to face time with the actual subjects at hand.

Needless to say, appearances can be deceiving. One lesson I learned from this whole experience is that you really can’t judge homeless teens based on appearances.

They might look intimidating or rough around the edges, but during my time talking to youth living on the streets, they were for the most part open to talk about their experiences.

The past week and a half have been an eye-opening experience for me. After seeing homeless teens see their world, a lot of things in my life seem trivial.

I’ll never take for granted the luxury of sleeping in a warm, soft bed every night.

Click here to read my article.

Week in review

4 05 2009

1. The Whitworthian, the student-newspaper I work for, earned several Mark of Excellence Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. This includes Best Affiliated Web site in the region and second place in Best All-Around Non-Daily Student Newspaper in the region.

2. Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter changed political parties from being a Republican to Democrat. This will give the Democrats enough seats in Congress to wield more centralized power in legislation.

3. Check out an in-depth news package about gender issues and women done by Jasmine Linabary, the online editor of The Whitworthian.

4. A fourth-grade student asks former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice about the legality of the torture methods used during the Bush administration.

5. I’ve ate unhealthy amounts of food this past week that is undoubtedly clogging my arteries as we speak (eating dinner followed by eating a “like it” Oreo Overload at Cold Stone followed by eating two tacos, and a sampler at Jack in the Box for example). Speaking of describing my food consumption to explain my inner obese child….

How many bubbles does it take to break a world record?

27 02 2009

As part of my assignments for a photojournalism class I’m taking, a friend and I have decided to explore the city – downtown, uptown, on railroad tracks and mountain trails. It’s been quite the adventure to say the least.

Our most recent photo hunt led us to self-proclaimed “bubbilustionist” Jarom Watts, who attempted to break two Guinness World records related to bubble blowing last Saturday.

"Bubbilusionist" Jarom Watts attempting to break the Gunniess World Record of longest bubble chain.

"Bubbilusionist" Jarom Watts attempting to break the Gunniess World Record of longest bubble chain.

I didn’t have a clue as to what the set up would be coming into the event but I was shocked at what should have been the most obvious – kids. The child to adult ratio was broke just about even and I should have figured a bubble blowing event would attract kids but I failed to put two and two together.

After several obnoxious children’s songs that a local band performed as an opener, he eventually broke the longest bubble chain record. He claims he can blow a bubble bigger than a size of a small car but the jury still stands on his largest bubble challenge at the event.

After photographing the show, I think it’s safe to say I’ll never want my job involving children and bubbles.

Watch the video after the jump if you want to see more about his attempt to break a world record:

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