Must Know Laws Affecting Teens in 2012
Many states have passed new laws affecting teens that went into effect around January 1, 2012. We highlight ten of the new laws below.
1. No fake n’ bake allowed for west coast kids. California becomes the first state to completely ban minors from using ultraviolet tanning devices (tanning salons). New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are considering similar legislation. Approximately 30 states have laws that impose restrictions on teens’ indoor tanning, but do not completely prohibit it like the new law in California.
2. Restrictions on morning after pill for teens. Over the counter sales of Plan B (the morning after pill) to teens younger than 17 is now prohibited throughout the country. Although teens younger than 17 still may have access to Plan B, they must have a prescription from a doctor first.
3. States cracking down on bath salts and Spice. The results of a recent survey show that one in nine high school seniors has used synthetic marijuana within the past year making it the second most popular drug next to marijuana. With the increased popularity of allegedly “legal drugs” like K2 and Spice(synthetic marijuana), states are enacting laws to ban these substances by banning the chemicals that the synthetic drugs contain. Last year the federal government listed 5 chemicals often found in Spice as a schedule one controlled substance and therefore, made it illegal to possess, sell, etc. Washington state has banned the synthetic cannibinoids found in Spice as well as the substituted cathinone chemicals found in “bath salts” which users typically snort to get a high similar to cocaine or methamphetamine. Again, the DEA has banned 3 of the synthetic stimulants often found in bath salts for at least one year while they continue to study whether it should be banned permanently.
4. No more “robotripping” for teens in California. Cracking down on cough syrup abuse amongst teens, also known as robotripping or “dexing” or the attempt to get a cheap high off the chemical found in cough syrups – dextromethorphan (“DXM”), California has banned teenagers from buying over the counter cough syrups like Nyquil and Robitussin-dm. In large doses DXM can cause hallucinogenic effects and even death. New Jersey also is considering prohibiting the sale of such cough syrups to minors.
5. Got Milk (Harvey, that is)? California students are now required to learn about the societal contributions of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender Americans, persons with disabilities and members of other cultural groups.
6. Teen drivers and texting while driving. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for teenagers. Every state has some graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, but some are much more restrictive than others. For example, the new law in Pennsylvania limits the number of passengers and requires additional training for teen drivers. Permit holders under the age of 18 are required to complete 65 hours of supervised, behind the wheel training. Drivers younger than 18 are prohibited from having more than one passenger under 18 and who is not an immediate family member unless a parent or guardian is in the vehicle. A New Jersey bill calls for teens to log up to an additional year of driving with their permit before becoming licensed. Stay tuned to see if it passes and becomes law. In addition, more states are banning texting while driving. Nevada, Pennsylvania and North Dakota are banning teens from texting while driving and cell phone use while driving.
7. Teen girls seeking abortions. New Hampshire joins the majority of states that require parental involvement in a minor’s abortion. The new law requires teenage girls to first tell their parents or a judge before having an abortion.
8. Dream Act becomes a reality in California. Undocumented students now are eligible for in-state tuition and non-state (private) scholarships. As long as the student has attended high school in California for at least 3 years, has graudated from high school or is attending a college or university, the tuition/scholarship eligibility requirements are expanded to these students.
9. Bullies beware! California has expanded the definition of cyberbullying to include certain posts on social networking sites. In Illinois, school boards can now suspend or expel students who make explicit threats on websites toward other students or school employees. Currently, only 13 states authorize school districts to take action against a student when off-campus bullying affects the school environment.
10. More protection for young athletes. Colorado coaches are required to bench players as young as 11 if they believe they may have a head injury. The young athletes will need medical clearance before returning to play the sport. In addition, coaches are required to take free annual training to recognize the symptoms of a concussion. Approximately 31 states and the District of Columbia have enacted concussion managment laws for student athletes.