SAN JOSE (KCBS)— Community leaders in Santa Clara County have kicked off a two-day public forum on what they call a disproportionately high number of kids from an ethnic-minority background in the child welfare and juvenile justice system.

Statistics show that the distorted rates are higher in Santa Clara more than any other county in the State of California. The head of the NAACP in Silicon Valley claims the reason why is because of racism.

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“We just tend to arrest black and brown kids and they tend to get into the juvenile hall system, which leads them to the jail or prison system. In the land of opportunity when there’s so many jobs and so much opportunity in Santa Clara County, we need to look for more ways to give these young people opportunities to be successful in life,” said Pastor Jethro Moore, president of the NAACP Silicon Valley chapter.

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County Supervisor Cindy Chavez is questioning these numbers. “We have more Latino and African-American children in our foster care and juvenile justice system than in our general population,” she said.

“Why is that? Is that because they need the services? Because there’s bias? Is it because those families are reported on more?” she added. “We don’t know the answers to those questions and we’re trying to figure that out.”

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Moore said while the Bay Area has the image of being a very tolerant place, these statistics simply don’t reflect that tolerance.