Setting aside misgivings from some members of its audience, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously endorsed a Children’s Bill of Rights that stresses the importance of children to all of us and asserts and delineates their right to a decent life.
The rights enumerated in the board proclamation range from a safe home and good diet to more nebulous goals such as the community encouraging youngsters to “dream big, grow through challenges and mistakes, and to always live with hope and aspiration.”
Supervisor Bruce Gibson called the document, which has been endorsed by other groups, “a fundamental statement of the humanity” of children.
Citizen Eric Greening added that the bill of rights enables youngsters to grow up in an environment in which they know the culture cares about them. He added that “we should be thinking of the kids all the time, in every decision.”
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Some audience members, however, opposed a Children’s Bill of Rights because they felt it would give the government entrée into matters that should be dealt with by the family.
Speaker Elsa Dawson asked whether there would be surveillance cameras in homes to ensure that the rights enumerated would be carried forward by individual families. She asked who would enforce and monitor the kids’ rights.
“The government is not our parent; we need to stop that,” added Laura Mordaunt, who called the document “a taking” from citizens in favor of “the collective.”
“People can raise their own children,” added Tom Dawson.
Elsa Dawson said the Childrens’ Bill of Rights, if adopted, could be used to compel policy decisions.
However, Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker said the document is not a “legislative agenda,” but a list of goals and aspirations for children that has the youngsters’ best interests at heart.
Noting that children grow up, Gibson added that “the focus on family is really a focus on our future.”
The Children’s Bill of Rights has also picked up backing from the county Health Commission, the Lucia Mar school board, the county Office of Education, and the United Way youth board.
There will be a “Children’s Summit” April 19 at Mountainbrook Community Church in San Luis Obispo.
Under the leadership of First 5 San Luis Obispo, these groups and others have worked for three years to get to this point and beyond.
The rights enumerated say children should be able to:
1) Live in a stable, comfortable home surrounded by parents, family and other caring adults who nurture us throughout childhood.
2) Eat healthy and plentiful meals every day.
3) Have the basic for our daily lives – clothing, transportation, and supplies for school, outside interests and activities.
4) Be and feel safe everywhere we go.
5) Enjoy daily physical activity and time outdoors.
6) Visit a doctor, dentist or counselor when needed to help us stay physically and mentally healthy
7) Learn and master ideas and skills in and out of school that inspire us, help us understand and be ready for our place in the world.
8) Explore a variety of experiences that illuminate the world’s natural beauty, richness and humane creativity – arts, nature, culture, music.
9) Make and keep healthy relationships with friends.
10) Know that adults and peers listen, respect, and support us as individuals while we grow our diverse backgrounds, circumstances, talents, sparks and passions.
11) Have opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways to our community by voicing our ideas, sharing in decisions and offering service to others.
12) Be encouraged to dream big, to grow through challenge and mistakes, and to always live with hope and aspiration.