Santa Clara County gets a C-minus in youth safety

Santa Clara County children age 10 to 17 have some of the
highest rates of suicide and self-inflicted injuries in the state,
along with some of the worst counseling services, according to a
recent study released by the California Wellness Foundation.
Santa Clara County children age 10 to 17 have some of the highest rates of suicide and self-inflicted injuries in the state, along with some of the worst counseling services, according to a recent study released by the California Wellness Foundation.

Out of 58 counties in the state, Santa Clara County ranks 54th in self-inflicted injuries resulting in hospitalization or death of children ages 10 to 17, and 45th in student-to-counselor ratio (1,235 students per counselor).

“The point of this study is to say that the state as a whole is not doing a very good job to prevent youth violence,” said Severn Williams, a spokesman for Choices for Youth, a San Francisco-based organization that tries to prevent violence amongst California youth. “Homicide is the number one cause of death for California kids between the ages of 10 and 17 – it should not be this way.”

The recent study, titled “California Youth Violence Prevention Scorecard,” gives Santa Clara County a “C-minus” for its youth safety statistics and a “C” for the programs it provides to its youth using federal and state dollars, such as after-school programs, mentoring, crime prevention and job training.

Williams said the data does not decipher between metro San Jose and South County, and it is hard to say why the self-inflicted injury rate is so high in the county – the state’s fifth largest with nearly 1.7 million people. Santa Clara County is also the largest county outside of Southern California.

On a positive note, Santa Clara County ranks fourth among state counties in graduating its public school students with University of California and California State University requirements.

The county also ranked 29th in its rate of juvenile incarceration and 32nd in assault victimization – the amount of juvenile assault cases resulting in the hospitalization of a victim.

“The bottom line is that the numbers across the board show that violence among California youth is not being controlled,” Williams said. “And we can’t just blame the counties – they often lack resources – we need to get outside resources to provide the youth with alternatives.”

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