Juvenile and Children's Law Section

This section provides a forum for lawyers who deal with juvenile and children’s law. It produces CLE courses related to this practice area, distributes a newsletter to section members, and works toward improving juvenile justice and children’s law.

Immediate Past Chair
The Odeneal Firm
PO Box 392
Lawrenceburg, TN 38464
LinkedIn: Stacie Odeneal
Midtown Law & Mediation
Po Box 4548
Chattanooga, TN 37405-0548
Karnes Legal Services
2273 North Highland Avenue Ste. A
Jackson, TN 38305-4909

Family Questions Punishment of Autistic Hamilton County Kindergartener

A Tennessee family says their autistic son is being unfairly punished after kissing another classmate on the cheek, the Washington Post reports. The 5-year-old Hamilton County kindergartener was diagnosed with autism several years ago and suffers from phonological disorder, which his mother says prevents him from understanding boundaries and personal space. After meeting with school officials regarding the child’s IEP, the mother was told that the child often hugged children and looked under a teacher’s dress in addition to the kissing incident.  The mother also alleges in a Newsweek article that school officials said the behavior amounted to "sexual activity” and that his permanent record would label him a sex offender. Hamilton County Schools said the district is bound by privacy laws that do not allow it to publicly discuss what happened in the classroom, but it denies allegations of wrongdoing and disagrees with how the family has framed the issue.

read more »

Family, Classmates Call for Prosecution of Cyberbullying That Drove Coffee County Teen to Suicide

The suicide of a 16-year-old who was outed online is reigniting concerns over cyberbullying and has led a call for the prosecution of those involved in the incident, the New York Times reports. Channing Smith, a junior at Coffee County Central High School, took his own life after sexually explicit text messages shared with a male classmate were revealed on social media. Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott — who reportedly is under investigation by the Board of Professional Responsibility after previously saying he wouldn't prosecute domestic violence cases involving same-sex couples — said his office has encouraged, cooperated in and supported the investigation, and that “when all relevant facts are available, my office will advise the Coffee County Sheriff’s Department on what charges, if any, we believe are appropriate to help guide it in that decision.”

read more »