Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe joined Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Jessica, a child sex trafficking survivor, for a panel discussion on child sex trafficking at the National Press Club this morning in Washington, D.C.
The panel provided an inside look at the horrific sex trafficking industry and what is necessary to combat it, including expanding the penalties for buyers and sellers, developing programs for survivors, and creating anti-child sex trafficking awareness campaigns. Supervisor Knabe also presented the findings of a survey conducted by the National Association of Counties (NACo) that detailed the extent of this issue in counties across the country.
“We see through the NACO survey results that this is a national issue that must be addressed,” said Supervisor Knabe. “As we see patterns in child sex trafficking across geography, we must also develop models for protection and prevention, by working together across levels of government. The voices of abused children often remain silent.
In the past, young girls arrested for prostitution were judged by society, exactly as their pimps predicted. The pimp life, outrageously, has been celebrated. Through education, survivor and prevention programs, and legislation, we will reverse this injustice. Young girls, those we are responsible to protect, will know that, no matter where they are from or how they have been trafficked, they are the true victims. We will be here for support, to help them realize their lives are valuable, and that they are worthy of the dreams they once imagined. We must do everything we can to get these girls off the track and on a path to a better life ahead. Together we will say, “No more; not in our streets; not to our young girls.”
Jessica, a child sex trafficking survivor said, “I was trafficked from Hollywood, California to Hollywood, Florida. Like many young ladies, I was considered the criminal. Names were attached to me. And yet the men who bought and sold me, and so many other young girls, too often get off without any penalties or circumstances. I have survived the things that were done to me. It’s time for the real criminals to pay for exploiting young girls. And it’s time for the young victims to get the services they need to move forward with the lives they deserve.”
To view the results of the NACo survey, visit: http://www.naco.org/newsroom/pubs/Documents/Surveys/SexTrafficking_Survey_April2014.pdf