News for Kids


For three years, I was the editor of the News for Kids section for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It was a weekly, full-color double-truck that went to every home subscriber as well to thousands of school children across Georgia. My team explained the most important hard news stories of the day and offered fun stories such as reviews, puzzles and celebrity interviews. I also worked with a group of kid reporters who wrote for the paper each week. They even interviewed the governor of Georgia. 

NFK Down Under


News for Kids
Kids around the country deal with Colorado tragedy

DATE: April 26, 1999
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Constitution
SECTION: Features

Kids around the country are struggling to understand last Tuesday’s attack in a Colorado high school. You may wonder why two young men, ages 18 and 17, would kill 12 of their classmates, one of their teachers and then shoot themselves. You also may wonder how safe your school is and what you can do to prevent violence there.

“Those kids who did the shooting were hurting,” explains Stephen Thomas, associate professor of community health at Emory University.

Anger is normal and natural, he says, but kids should express it in nonviolent ways. Thomas says there are many ways to work out anger, sadness or feelings that you don’t fit in. He says talking is a great method for relieving anger. If you can’t find the words or find someone to listen, then you can turn to music, the arts or even reading. You can paint a picture of your feelings, write a song or play a game of hoops.

Being scared now

Thomas says it’s OK for you to feel scared, sad, angry or unsafe despite being far away from the Colorado school. You may have been taught that bad things happen when you’re in the wrong place, but school, after all, is supposed to be a safe place.

Thomas says you may feel that “my teacher, my mom and dad cannot protect me.” He recommends telling anyone — even your pet turtle — about these feelings. Thomas, who works with a local program where kids who have survived violence counsel others, says he’s seen firsthand that talking helps.

Feeling safe at school

Although you may feel a little uneasy at school, the state and counties are doing a lot to make sure you’re safe. In fact, the number of guns found in schools has declined for the past three years, says Gary Reese, Georgia Department of Education spokesman. Statewide, 203 students were expelled for taking guns to school in 1997-1998. In 1996-1997, 244 students were kicked out for that.

Reese explains it’s up to the local school systems to decide what safety measures are needed. For example, some schools in DeKalb County have unannounced visits from gunpowder-sniffing dogs. High schools in Gwinnett County have police officers on campus and Cherokee County schools are adding them in the fall. Some Gwinnett schools have security cameras and locked doors during the day. And Clayton County schools train teachers for emergencies.

What you can do

Besides talking through your feelings and helping others at your school express themselves, there’s more you can do to prevent violence.

In fact, you may know the most about what your classmates are feeling or doing. You should be observant and not be afraid to let a parent, teacher or principal know what you’ve seen or heard.

If you’re afraid to tell, you can call a state-run hotline where you don’t have to leave your name. The number is 1-877-SAY-STOP (1-877-729-7867).

You also can contact the Kids Alive and Loved program at Emory University. The community-based violence prevention group can help you form a support group at your school. You can reach them at 404-727-4437.

You can join the Student Pledge Against Gun Violence. Last year, more than 1 million students signed the pledge. You can learn more at
Photo: Remembering: Preschoolers’ handprints are among items left at a park in Littleton, Colo. to mourn those who were killed at a nearby high school. / PATRICK DAVISON / Staff


We want to hear and see your feelings about the killings in Colorado. We want you to write, draw, paint or create anything that we can print to tell the world what you think. We will publish some of your responses in the next few issues of News for Kids. Please include your name, age, school and phone number. Send copies of your original work to Express Myself, P.O. Box 4689, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, GA 30302. The deadline is May 5.

majorleaguematchupNews for Kids
Religious war
Where is Kosovo and why are its people fighting?

DATE: March 15, 1999
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Constitution
SECTION: Features
MEMO: Home

Throughout history, people have gone to battle for many reasons — for money, for land and very often for their religious beliefs. Protestants and Roman Catholics have fought for years in Northern Ireland. Hindus and Muslims have battled in India, and Jews and Muslims have struggled violently in Israel. Kosovo, in the Balkan region of Europe, is the most recent battle site of religious warfare. Groups from around the world are trying to stop the fighting, and a peace treaty may be signed today. Kosovo is a part of the republic of Serbia, which is about the size of Georgia. Serbia is one of two republics that make up the country of Yugoslavia. In Kosovo, Albanians are fighting Serbs to make the province an independent country, explains Gary Bertsch, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. The Albanians are related to the people of the neighboring country of Albania. They make up about 90 percent of the population in Kosovo, and most of them follow the Muslim faith.

Few Serbs live in Kosovo, but many live in areas surrounding the province. Most Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Although both Albanians and Serbs live in similar houses, on similar lands with similar jobs, they don’t get along, in part because they have different religions. The Serbs have had battles with other people in the Balkans as well, says Bertsch. The countries of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia have broken away from Yugoslavia in recent years, partly because of religious differences with the Serbs. The Serbs control Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was once a stable country that included many groups of people. While it had a strong Communist leader, Josip Tito, people of different religions and backgrounds were pretty successful at living peacefully, says Bertsch. But after the death of Tito in 1980 and the fall of communism, the country fell into a series of civil wars. The Serbs don’t want Kosovo to become independent, because they say the land is an important part of their culture and religion, explains Bertsch. In the past, the United Nations, the United States and other countries have stepped in to help bring peace to the region. They have even sent peacekeeping troops. To stop the fighting in Kosovo, the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization have been holding peace negotiations in France. NATO has proposed that the Albanians and Serbs set a cooling off period of about three years. NATO troops would police the region. The two sides are supposed to return today to announce if they agree.
Map NFK Kosovo map 0315.eps: Shows a global view of Kosovo. / STEPHEN CAMPER / Staff

Story of the week: The Confederacy is gone, but its flag still stirs emotions
DATE: March 6, 2000
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Constitution
SECTION: Features
COLUMN: News for Kids

What does the Confederate battle flag mean to you? Is the flag, which Rebel soldiers carried in the Civil War, a symbol of pride in the South? Or does it glorify a time when African-Americans were enslaved?

These are questions the lawmakers and other people of South Carolina are trying to answer. The Legislature placed the battle flag above South Carolina’s Capitol in Columbia in 1962. It flies on the same pole as the U.S. flag and South Carolina’s blue state flag.

Some say the battle flag was flown over the Capitol to mark the 100th anniversary of the Civil War. “It is a living monument to the boys who died,” Conrad Mizzell of Marietta said during a rally for the flag in January.

Others say it was meant to send a message that South Carolina would resist a 1954 Supreme Court ruling. The case, known as Brown versus the Board of Education, decided that blacks and whites could no longer be forced to attend separate schools. This ruling made many Southern states angry.

They decided to “wave the flag and tell the federal courts we’re not going to change,” said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political science professor.

Other states also began displaying the battle flag. Georgia, for example, made it part of its state flag in 1956.

People have rallied for and against the flag in South Carolina. Some people want to remove it from the Capitol permanently. Others would like to see it moved to a Confederate memorial. The state’s legislators must change the law before the battle flag can be removed.

To pressure legislators to take down the flag, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for a tourist boycott. It has asked people not to travel to South Carolina and not to spend money on hotels and restaurants there. The NAACP hopes that if businesses lose money, those business owners will persuade legislators to drop the flag.

Staff writer Marlon Manuel contributed to this article.
Photo: Georgia’s flag was changed in 1956 to add the Confederate battle flag.

Photo: Mississippi’s flag has included the Confederate battle flag since the 1890s.

Photo: South Carolina’s flag features the state tree, the palmetto.

Photo: The Confederate battle flag, which is square, has been adapted over the years into a rectang-ular version. The Confedrate battle flag is not the same as the Stars and Bars. The Stars and Bars was flown by the Confederate government but was not good for battle. It looked too similar to the U.S. flag and confused soldiers.

Graphic: Did you know . . .

In Georgia and Mississippi, the Confederate battle flag design is part of the state flags.

Georgia’s flag has been changed several times. The current flag was designed by John Sammons Bell, an Atlanta lawyer. It became the official flag in 1956.

In 1993, Gov. Zell Miller proposed changing the flag back to its pre-1956 design. While his proposal pleased some people, it angered many others. The Georgia Legislature refused to pass the bill.


By calling for a tourist boycott of South Carolina, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hopes to get people from other states interested in the flag issue.

People who agree with the NAACP may make their feelings known by deciding not to visit South Carolina and not to spend money there. The group hopes that if businesses lose money, they’ll push the legislators to remove the flag.

The boycott started Jan. 1. State tourism officials estimate that the Columbia and coastal areas have lost $7 million from canceled trips. That doesn’t include money lost from people who won’t even consider visiting the state. Tourists usually spend $7 billion a year there.

The New York Knicks recently said they would not return to the College of Charleston in April for their playoff training camp.

And the American Bar Association, an organization for lawyers, has canceled an April meeting in the state.

“They may not be losing megabucks, but the fact of it is, South Carolina is getting a black eye,” said Bruce Ransom, an associate professor of political science at Clemson University.

Photo: No to the flag: Calvin Moses holds up his sign at a Martin Luther King Day protest against letting the Confederate battle flag keep flying over the South Carolina Statehouse. / GERRY PATE / The (Spartanburg) Herald Journal

Photo: Defending the flag: South Carolina Sen. Arthur Ravenel, who represents a district near Charleston, speaks out on the heritage of the Confederate battle flag during a Jan. 8 rally on the steps of the Statehouse. The battle flag has flown over the Capitol since 1962, and Ravenel says it should stay. / MARY ANN CHASTAIN / Associated Press

Story of the week: Grilling the Gov.
News for Kids took four readers to meet Georgia’s governor. Here’s what they learned.

DATE: January 10, 2000
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Constitution
SECTION: Features
COLUMN: News for Kids

In a first for News for Kids, we sent four kid reporters to interview Georgia Governor Roy Barnes last week. The cub reporters grilled our state’s leader on topics such as education, driving laws, his New Year’s resolutions and how much money he makes.

Barnes, 51, is starting his second year as governor. He spent 22 years in the General Assembly, which makes laws for the state. The Assembly begins its 2000 session today, and the governor will try to get laws passed that he thinks are good for Georgia.

Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:

Andromeda: What do you do as governor?

Barnes: The governor is the chief executive officer of the state of Georgia. He or she is charged with the responsibility to make sure the state is run properly, to set policy, to set where we’re going and to try to make sure that we move there.

Felicia: What do you do during the day?

Barnes: Well, I get up between 5 and 5:30 in the morning. First thing I do is read newspapers. I drink coffee and read newspapers for about an hour, and then I answer e-mails for about 30 minutes. Then I shower and come to the Capitol. All during the day, it just depends. I see people. I meet with staff, meet with department heads. I go up and speak with the legislators. About one or two days a week, I go out in the state either to speak or to attend an event.

Felicia: How much do you make?

Barnes: I think it’s $115,000 a year. (An aide later told us it’s exactly $115,932.)

Margaret: I have three dogs at home, and I’m really concerned about animal cruelty. So how do you feel about making animal cruelty a felony, which would make it a more serious crime?

Barnes: Well, I think that we should strengthen laws to prevent animal cruelty. I can’t tell you whether I’m in favor of it being a felony or not until I study it a little bit more.

Larry: I understand that there may be a law proposed changing the teenage driving age,

and I was wondering what your position is on this.

Barnes: I generally favor increasing the age that driver’s licenses are granted. Statistics show us the most dangerous age for driving an automobile is 16. And the reason is because traffic has increased so much and the dangers have increased so much that there should be, in my view, some increase in age.

Margaret: What would you say to a kid who is taking the Gateway test, which decides whether students advance to the next grade? Kids in Gwinnett are getting all nervous and upset about it.

Barnes: I can understand the concern. But at the same time what I would say is, “This is very important so that for the rest of your life you have a good basic education that allows you to be employed. It is much better to address this issue now while you’re still in school rather than after you get out of school and you find out you don’t have those basic skills.” So it may be painful in the beginning, but it pays off in the long run.

Margaret: What resolutions did you make for yourself and for Georgia in the year 2000?

Barnes: The resolution I made for Georgia is that we dramatically improve education in Georgia. Myself, it’s generally the same every year: that I won’t eat as much and lose weight. It’s got to be the most broken resolution there is on the face of the Earth.
Photo: Big job, big desk: The size of the governor’s desk equals about 20 of your school desks. News for Kids reporters were impressed by how clean he kept it and noticed that Barnes liked to rock in his leather chair as he listened to and answered their questions. / KIMBERLY SMITH / Staff

Photo: Our reporters at the Capitol were:

Margaret DeGrace, a fourth-grader at Livsey Elementary School in DeKalb County./ KIMBERLY SMITH / Staff

Photo: Felicia Guest, a fourth-grader at Hambrick Elementary in DeKalb. / KIMBERLY SMITH / Staff

Photo: Larry Winsor, a freshman at North Springs High School in Fulton County./ KIMBERLY SMITH / Staff

Photo: Andromeda Smith, a fourth-grader at Hambrick Elementary in DeKalb County./ KIMBERLY SMITH / Staff

Photo: The scoop: Felicia Guest learned that Barnes wanted to be a farmer when he was a boy. Then he decided to be a lawyer. Then he chose politics./ KIMBERLY SMITH / Staff

News for Kids
Will peace die with King Hussein?

DATE: February 15, 1999
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Constitution
SECTION: Features
MEMO: Home

He was only one man. The country he ruled is small, and his people are poor. But the death of Jordan’s King Hussein could affect world peace. Located in the desert in the Middle East, the country of Jordan borders Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria. Like Jordan, all of these nations are ruled by Arabs and all follow the Islamic, or Muslim, religion. Jordan also borders Israel. Israel is a Jewish nation that has often fought with Arab countries — including Jordan.

After losing a war to Israel in 1967, King Hussein has tried to make peace in the region.

Hussein began his reign in 1953, after seeing his grandfather assassinated a year earlier. He died last week of cancer at age 63 in his country.

His 37-year-old son, Abdullah, a general in Jordan’s army, has taken over as king. The new and inexperienced king will face many threats.

There are lots of unemployed people in his country. Poverty is great. Water supplies are short. And as a new king, there’s always the risk of a coup d’etat, which means being thrown out of power by other groups within the country.

Other threats come from outside. Hussein encouraged Israel to sign a peace treaty with the Palestinians, a group of Arabs who live in or near Israel. He was helping the Palestinian people form a state of their own alongside Israel. A final agreement is supposed to be reached this spring. Now, Hussein won’t be there to help, and a new war could break out.

Also, stronger countries, such as Syria, Iraq, Iran and Israel may try to push the new king around.

President Clinton is supporting Jordan’s new leader. The United States already gives millions of dollars to help Jordan, and now Clinton wants to give more.

Jordan has about 5 million people, fewer than the state of Georgia. Unlike its neighbors, Jordan has very few natural resources such as oil.

— AJC news services contributed to this report.
Photo: Jordan’s King Hussein


Map shows the country of Jordan, its capital, Amman, and surrounding countries. Inlaid shows location of Jordan on a world globe. / Mark

Giles / staff

A campaign refresher course
DATE: January 24, 2000
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Constitution
SECTION: Features
COLUMN: News for Kids

We didn’t hire your old social studies teacher to lecture you, but we do have a lesson on civic responsibility. It’s a game to help children — or adults — follow the presidential primary season, which starts tonight with the Iowa caucuses. The game is part of News for Kids inside this section. There, you can learn the lingo of the presidential primaries and track the progress of your favorite candidate. If you can’t remember how many delegates it takes to lock up the Republican nomination, or you’re still trying to figure out the difference between the parties, we’ve got you covered.

Also, see our Web site,, for a list of links to political sites — for candidates, parties and news organizations. There’s also a lesson plan you can use, if you want to share NFK pages with a youngster.
Graphic: Man holding a sign that reads “Vote Today” / ELIZABETH LANDT / Staff

DATE: August 9, 1999
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Constitution
SECTION: Features
COLUMN: News for Kids

To help make the most of this new school year, parents and teachers can turn to our new resource Web site at Each Saturday, we give you activities to use with the following Monday’s NFK page. You’ll find short lessons for every story. There also will be a major project to further explore our story of the week. Plus, we’ll offer ideas to help kids learn about the rest of the paper and their world. You can download a copy or we can e-mail the lesson to you. Please e-mail your suggestions to make our site better!