Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe called on the members of the California Assembly to vote in support of Senate Bill 1322, which comes before them tomorrow. The Bill, sponsored by State Senator Holly Mitchell and approved by the State Senate, would decriminalize prostitution for minors. In urging his support, Knabe said:
“There is no such thing as a child prostitute! The most vulnerable children in our communities are coerced into selling themselves for sex, and are forced to do it through brutal violence and intimidation. They are not the criminals here and we must treat them like the victims they are! Our focus should be on bringing to justice those who buy and sell little girls.
“We don’t need to arrest children in order to provide them with the services they need to heal. Los Angeles County has been at the forefront of developing a protocol with law enforcement, Probation, Children’s Services and community partners to protect the girls and provide them with wraparound services.
“Our approach is working. We have rescued 131 girls in the past two years; most of whom have been placed in group homes, foster care or back with their families. Passing SB 1322 sends a strong message of support to the survivors and to the girls still out there, being raped and assaulted every day. Make no mistake: when we charge young girls with prostitution, we are calling them prostitutes. They need our help and our compassion and the tools to move on with their lives; not to be labeled and further traumatized.”