In 2012, Los Angeles County was identified as a major hub for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Adult traffickers were preying upon children, some as young as 10 years old, and forcing them to sell their bodies for money in our local streets night after night. As a result of a history of abuse and neglect prior to their exploitation, many of these children have been involved in the County’s child welfare system.
Despite being victims of exploitation, these children were routinely criminalized for behavior they were forcefully manipulated into by their exploiters. The County’s child-serving agencies, as well as law enforcement, were brought together to create a countywide response and train staff to identify and better serve child victims of sexual exploitation.
With the Los Angeles County Law Enforcement First Responder Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children, we have created a system in which law enforcement officers can identify victims of sexual exploitation and work collaboratively with County agencies and community-based organizations to avoid arrest, keep them safe and provide them with the services they need to escape exploitation. Identifying and engaging youth at this first point of contact will help keep victims of extreme sexual abuse from being criminalized. Together with law enforcement and our non-profit partners, Los Angeles County stands united in saying: “Our children are not for sale.”
For questions or more information, contact:
Los Angeles County Probation