Category Archives: News

Bokeh Focus Remodeled … Now Bolder & Modern


WELCOME TO BOKEH FOCUS! Youth Photos, Youth Focus: a platform for professional, amateur, and youth photographers to showcase photography and art about youth around the world and juvenile justice in the United States. At Bokeh Focus we love stories – and photographs tell the best stories. We want to hear from our community of photographers and artists in Atlanta and from around the world. Bokeh Focus was created to allow photographers and artists an opportunity to share their work. Our focus is influenced by our sister websites – Youth Today and Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.  We seek photographs and art that portray: […]

Kids Compete, Learn in Juvenile Justice Jeopardy Game


Text and Photos by Ali Sardar Spending a Saturday morning in a classroom is not something most kids want to do. So why did 110 kids between 9 and 17 years old in Lawrenceville, Georgia, do that in mid-May? They received basketball instruction from retired NBA stars and learned how to deal with police, tense situations on the street and about Georgia law playing Juvenile Justice Jeopardy. “Young people are learning about the law, juvenile justice and police … from media, family and friends [and] it’s all wrong,” said Steve O’Reilly, staff attorney for Strategies for Youth, which originated the game […]

Rally Held to Support Jessica Colotl’s Immigration Fight to Keep Dreamer Status


Text and Photos by Ali Sardar ATLANTA — Advocacy groups and protesters rallied this weekend downtown in support of Jessica Colotl, whose Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status was recently revoked. Her story made headlines in 2010 when she faced deportation as a 21-year-old undocumented student after being arrested for driving without a license. Since then Colotl received DACA status, graduated and went to work as a paralegal for Kuck Immigration Partners. Organizations participating Saturday were the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia; the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, which has joined Colotl’s legal team; Asian Americans Advancing Justice; Black Lives […]

Community-based Organization Battles Chronic Absenteeism in Queens


Text and Photos by Becky Holladay “Good morning, Love Bugs, it’s a beautiful day!” Meaghan Holley sang through the door of an apartment. “Psych. It’s actually really gross out. But we still have to get up and go to school!” Holley, a 30-year-old community worker who runs Rockaway Rising, which works with youth and families in Far Rockaway, Queens, personally escorts to school kids who would otherwise be absenteeism statistics.   10 likes

Nonprofit Art School Helps Youth Thrive in Skid Row, Los Angeles


Text and Photos by Sean Myers LOS ANGELES — Nestled among nondescript warehouses and infamous streets, Inner-City Arts in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row is an oasis for artistic growth and self-exploration that serves more than 8,000 students each year. See these creative students in action! Click the photo gallery above. The school provides free classes each day for students in grades K-8 education through a partnership with the L.A. Unified School District and other charter schools. The nonprofit organization also offers after-school and weekend programs for high school students, as well as summer programs for children of all ages. The out-of-school time […]

Young People Protest U.S. Election in New York, Washington, Nationwide


Text by Karen Savage | Photos by Devin Khan NEW YORK — Chants of “not my president” and “love trumps hate” filled the air as thousands of young people stood shoulder to shoulder Wednesday night, filling the blocks around Trump Tower with signs reading: “Trump = Racist Rapist,” “Black Lives Matter,” “She Got More Votes” and “Trump, I’m LGBTQ and I’m not afraid of you.” While Donald Trump’s election victory pointed a spotlight on vast racial, economic and cultural differences across the country, New Yorkers united to show their sadness, shock and anger over Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. […]

Violence by Police, Against Police Risks Tearing Country Further Apart


Text by Daryl Khan | Photos by Karen Savage and Marco Poggio NEW YORK — Gavin Long was not among the peaceful crowds on July 10, the week before he savagely murdered three Baton Rouge law enforcement officers. He was nowhere to be found among the mostly young protesters who gathered to call for justice in the shooting death of Alton Sterling by police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, and for reforms of a department they said was rife with racism. He did not participate in the demonstrations, carry signs, deliver speeches. And that should come as no […]

Broken Promises, Broken Lives


Text by Daryl Khan | Photos by Robert Stolarik The mostly black electorate of Baltimore elected a white candidate to be the next mayor in 1999. My editor at The Boston Globe asked me to go find out why. I was walking the derelict blocks of the city when I came upon the answer: a picture fastened to a splintering telephone pole that residents had turned into a makeshift memorial. The picture was of Angus Breen, a grinning teenager, much younger looking than his 14 years, who had been savagely murdered — stabbed to death during a robbery over some […]

A Tale of Two Cities


Text by Daryl Khan | Photos by Robert Stolarik “Government must focus on the needs of families, must be the protector of neighborhoods and must guard the people from the enormous power of monied interests. Now, my friends, it can be done, but not by elected leaders alone. It requires average New Yorkers who simply refuse to allow their community’s voices to be stifled. It’s their spirit that I intend to sweep into City Hall. A spirit that shouts that all boroughs were created equal and that all our residents matter! So, let’s be honest about where we are today. […]

‘Shell Shocked’ Documents Violence in New Orleans


Text by Ellen Kennerly | Photos by Kara Khan It’s easier to get a gun than a textbook in New Orleans, America’s murder capital. ‘Shell-Shocked’ — a movie filled with violence, death and schoolroom chaos — stunned the young Bronx audience in New York. A New Orleans teen pleads “I really do not, do not want to die young! I do not want to stay here because I don’t want to die.” See more photography by Kara Khan Read more coverage on the film “Shell Shocked” at JJIE   6 likes

A Celebration of Peace in a Community Touched By Gun Violence


Text and Photos by Laura Bult NEW YORK — At a children’s summer party last Saturday afternoon at the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway, Penny Wrencher made an introduction between two friends. She knew they would have something in common. “This is Nene,” Wrencher said to Taylonn Murphy, “She lost her daughter, too.” Murphy and Vernell “Nene” Britt smiled, shook hands and looked at each other in recognition. They had both lost charismatic, basketball-playing daughters in shooting feuds. In the summer of 2006, Britt was awakened by a phone call with news that her 18-year-old daughter, Latina “Peanut” Bilbro, had been involved […]

West Harlem Gang Raid


Text by Daryl Khan / Photos by Robert Stolarik NEW YORK — Whenever LaQuint Singleton found himself about to get into a fight out in the courtyards or in the small playground in front of his building at the General Ulysses S. Grant Houses, he would run and find his mom, Venus. He’d scamper up the stairs and go up to her looking for protection. Back then, Singleton was a good student who regularly attended school and attended church service every Sunday. One day, in an attempt to impress the older teenagers and men, he carried a gun to give […]

Stories of LGBTQ Youth from the Big Easy


Text by Meral Agish | Photos by Kara Khan and Meral Agish NEW YORK — A woman pulls out a letter she has written to her younger self and dedicated to her daughter. The advice is sweet and maternal: You are a beautiful young woman.” But for Milan, the woman reading the letter, the source of her wisdom has an edge. “I’m priceless yet I find myself constantly putting a price tag on my body.” Milan is young, only in her 20s, the daughter she mentions is a teenaged friend whom she mentors. And the advice is based on her experience […]

The Kids for Cash Scandal


Text by Daryl Khan | Photos by Robert Stolarik WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — After a few beers one evening in the mid-1960s, Mark Ciavarella, in high school at the time and applying the kind of inexplicable logic that experts say is typical of many teens whose brains have not fully developed, conspired to steal a car and go for a joyride with his cousin and a friend. A detective noticed the teenagers suspiciously lingering around the car and pulled over. Ciavarella’s friend and his cousin darted away, but Ciavarella was not so lucky. The detective nabbed him and threw him in […]

Hurting in Harlem


Text by Daryl Khan | Photos by Robert Stolarik The killing of 18-year-old Tayshana Murphy on an early morning in 2011 has led to a series of retaliatory beatings, stabbings and shootings between the Manhattanville and Grant Houses in Harlem. This historical beef has turned into internecine warfare between the two sides, creating one of the bloodiest and most violent feuds in the city.  Update June 4, 2014: Dozens Arrested in Gang Raid at Harlem Housing Projects NEW YORK — The father of the dead girl takes a look at the brown painted door and shakes his head with contempt. He’s […]

Damon’s Fix: A Young Heroin Addict’s Journey from Injection to Incarceration


Text by Katy McCarthy | Photos by © Djamila Grossman, Standard- Examiner When photographer Djamila Grossman met Damon Conrow in 2010 he was 26-years-old and had been addicted to heroin for seven years. At that point, he told her he didn’t even get high when he shot up anymore, he just became normal. “I just get better now. I don’t get high. I feel a rush when I put it in but that’s like three seconds and it’s done, and then I’m just normal, like you are,” he told her. In a series of incredibly difficult-to-look-at photos and videos, Grossman […]

Sandy Hook One Year on


Text by Daryl Khan | Photos by Robert Stolarik NEWTOWN, Conn. — Nearly one year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the town has struggled to reclaim its identity as a quaint New England town. A “Welcome to Sandy Hook” sign of angels hung along highway 34. Sandy Hook Elementary School has been razed. The process of destroying the school — where last year Adam Lanza, a socially awkward 20-year old, massacred 20 first-grade students and six teachers and staff in a matter of minutes — began earlier in the year and is now nearly complete. It was […]

[Youth Report] Bokeh Publishes the Work of NYC Teens


Text by Bokeh Focus Staff | Photos NYC Salt What does N.Y.C. look like through the eyes of its teenage inhabitants? 17-year-old Merelyn Bucio describes it this way, “I’ve lived in NYC almost all my life. I love what this city has to offer, from the sunsets cutting between the skyscrapers to the man in his underwear on roller skates. Rarely people take the time to see it all, and I want to show them through my lens, what they might miss on any given day in this crazy city.” Merelyn is a participant in NYC Salt— a non-profit organization putting […]