Dewan: The health, safety and well-being of children and young adults 
Santa Clara County and its partners recently updated The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth. Photo courtesy of Santa Clara County Office of Education.

    A 2022 report, updated in March, found that firearms recently became the No. 1 cause of death for children and teens in the United States, surpassing motor vehicle deaths and those caused by other injuries. Additionally, child abuse persists, leading to injury, harm and sometimes death. National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. Prevention efforts help to protect children and strengthen families. Resources are available at the National Child Abuse Prevention Month website.

    Locally, Santa Clara County agencies, schools and community-based organizations are working together to uplift the voice of youth and take preventative steps for the health, safety and well-being of youth. In February 2010, Santa Clara County adopted The Bill of Rights for Children and Youth. Recently, members of the Youth Liberation Movement were called upon to update the bill of rights. This youth-led engagement involved hundreds of young people throughout Santa Clara County to create a new bill of rights. The new version was unveiled at the Annual Children’s Summit in March, and was featured in the 2023 Santa Clara County Children’s Data Book.

    The Bill of Rights for Children and Young Adults aspires to ensure equitable access to the resources needed to be safe, healthy, successful in learning and thriving in life.

    Bill of Rights for Children and Youth for Santa Clara County 

    Every young person must get what they need when they need it, no matter their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, mental or physical ability, nationality, immigration status, criminal history, first language, skin color, education status, or wealth. We value the diversity of our children and young adults in Santa Clara County and believe we must treat each of them with respect and dignity.

    All children and young adults have the right to:

    Health care—Affordable, timely, and quality mental and physical health care that they can access at any time.

    Mental health—Mental and emotional health and well-being and support systems in and outside of the home that promote emotional and social safety.

    Love and emotional connections—Meaningful connections with consistent, caring adults and peers who love and appreciate the young person for who they are and want to see them grow.

    Support and guidance—Receive support and guidance from role models who are dedicated to helping them achieve their dreams and goals.

    Life skills—Training to develop life skills and knowledge as well as opportunities to apply them for their growth.

    Education—A relevant and engaging education that exposes them to other cultures and promotes lifelong learning.

    Job opportunities—Job opportunities that provide safe and reasonable working conditions, and a living wage, and allow them to grow their careers.

    Personal development—Time, space, and resources to pursue any interest or opt for rest.

    External support for family—Support that will allow their families to be taken care of so they can pursue their dreams.

    Modern needs—Reliable transportation and Wi-Fi, computers that meet their needs, and phones when applicable.

    Basic needs—Enough quality food and water, showers, clean clothes, and hygiene products to keep their bodies healthy.

    Housing—Affordable, stable, safe, and comfortable housing that meets their needs as individuals.

    Green spaces—Easily accessible and clean green spaces that will be preserved for future generations.

    Safety—Feel and be safe in all environments they are in, such as their schools, homes, neighborhoods, and online.

    Voice—Be treated as equal partners in identifying problems, developing solutions, and making the decisions that they are impacted by.

    Choice—Make important decisions for their lives and set boundaries that are respected.

    The Bill of Rights can be found at: To endorse it as an individual or organization, please visit the Kids in Common webpage provided above.

    Information about how children and youth are faring in Santa Clara County and some of the programs and initiatives that are working for youth can be found in the 2023 Children’s Data Book. The book is a collaboration of Kids in Common, the County of Santa Clara and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. To review the data dashboard, visit

    San José Spotlight columnist Mary Ann Dewan is the superintendent of schools for Santa Clara County. She has more than 33 years of experience in the field of education. Her columns appear every third Monday of the month.

    Comment Policy (updated 5/10/2023): Readers are required to log in through a social media or email platform to confirm authenticity. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, hate speech, excess profanity or make verifiably false statements. Comments are moderated and approved by admin.

    Leave a Reply