Child Sex Trafficking

Los Angeles County, Long Beach Officials Launch Safe Youth Zone

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Los Angeles County and City of Long Beach officials gathered in Long Beach today to launch the Safe Youth Zone program, which creates a network of safe places for child sex trafficking victims and children in desperate situations to seek help and services at designated facilities. The program will be piloted at Compton and Century Sheriff’s Stations, Lynwood and Willowbrook County Fire Stations, and the Long Beach Police Department’s downtown station.

“As the ultimate safety net, Los Angeles County has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable children,” said Supervisor Don Knabe. “The Safe Youth Zone program creates a safe place for our youngest child sex trafficking victims to seek out help when they find themselves in a desperate situation. While we are starting with public safety stations, my hope is that all County facilities will one day serve as Safe Youth Zones for our most at-risk children to find a place for help and hope.”

“Keeping kids safe is a top priority for the City of Long Beach, and we greatly appreciate Supervisor Knabe collaborating with us to create Safe Youth Zones,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “Our public safety departments will continue working with the County of Los Angeles and our community partners to combat human trafficking and protect our young people.”

Said Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell: “My goal for creating the Sheriff’s Department Human Trafficking Bureau has been to identify and rescue victims of trafficking and exploitation. It is both appropriate and necessary that we make available to the public our Sheriff’s Stations as a safe place for those who need them the most.”

Said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby: “Our 173 County fire stations have always been — and will always remain — a safe and welcome zone for youth, especially those seeking help and protection during times of need and desperation. Through Supervisor Knabe’s Safe Youth Zone Program expansion, County fire stations and sheriff’s stations are able to immediately request services for a child, so he or she can be placed in a more healthy, secure environment than what they left.”

“We are pleased to participate in a program that offers a safe place where our youth can seek help and resources,” stated Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. “I would like to thank Supervisor Knabe for his efforts in coordinating this outstanding example of the collective efforts being carried out by our local government to help those who are most vulnerable.”  

L.A. County, Long Beach Officials to Launch Safe Youth Zone

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What:

Los Angeles County and City of Long Beach officials will gather in Long Beach to launch the Safe Youth Zone program, which creates a network of safe places for child sex trafficking victims and children in desperate situations to seek help and services at designated facilities. The program will be piloted at Compton and Century Sheriff’s Stations, Lynwood and Willowbrook County Fire Stations, and the Long Beach Police Department’s downtown station.

Who:

*         Don Knabe, Los Angeles County Supervisor

*         Dr. Robert Garcia, Mayor, City of Long Beach

*         Daryl Osby, Chief, Los Angeles County Fire Department

*         Robert Luna, Chief, Long Beach Police Department

*         Chris Marks, Captain, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Human Trafficking Bureau

*         Michelle Guymon, Los Angeles County Probation Department

*         Jessica Midkiff, Survivor-Advocate

When:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
10:30am

Where:

Long Beach Police Department Headquarters
Community Room – 1st Floor
400 West Broadway, Long Beach, 90802
(Located at west end of the building, near Magnolia Ave.)

Background:

Earlier this year, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe called for the expansion and rebranding of the County’s Safe House Program, which offers safety to children who are running from a bully or away from home. Supervisor Knabe’s goal was to expand the program to create a network of safe places for victims of child sex trafficking to seek out when they were put on the street by their pimp or trafficker. In doing so, the program was renamed the Safe Youth Zone program and the County’s First Responder Protocol for Law Enforcement was implemented to ensure victims who come in seeking help are directed to life changing services and programs. The Safe Youth Zone program will initially encompass all County Fire Stations and Sheriff Stations, before rolling out to facilities countywide. Designated Safe Youth Zones will be identified by a bright yellow placard placed near the entrance to facilities.

Knabe Statement on Governor Brown Decriminalizing Prostitution for Minors

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe released the following statement regarding Governor Jerry Brown signing multiple bills which protect young child sex trafficking victims from further exploitation, including Senate Bill 1322, which decriminalizes prostitution for minors in the state of California:

“There is no such thing as a child prostitute in the state of California! I am thrilled to hear that Governor Jerry Brown declared enough is enough and decriminalized prostitution and loitering with intent to commit prostitution for minors. This is truly a momentous day for the victims and survivors of this horrific crime, who fall prey to manipulative monsters who sell them for sex night after night. Instead of arresting and stigmatizing young child sex trafficking victims, law enforcement will now play a critical role in helping these girls get the support and treatment they need to escape life on the streets.

“Children don’t need to be arrested in order for us to provide them with the services they need to heal. Our approach in Los Angeles County is working.  In the past two years, we have rescued 131 girls; most of whom have been placed in group homes, foster care or back with their families.

“Thanks to the efforts of Governor Brown, Senator Holly Mitchell, law enforcement, our advocacy groups and local community organizations, we can now offer compassion, help and support to our most vulnerable children, and refocus our efforts to bring justice to those who buy, sell and exploit them.”

KNABE URGES SUPPORT OF CALIFORNIA SENATE BILL 1322 ADVOCATING FOR THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF PROSTITUTION FOR MINORS

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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.”

L.A. County to Establish Safe Zones for Victims of Child Sex Trafficking

Los Angeles County will move forward with renaming and rebranding the County’s Safe House Program to create a network of safe harbors for victims of child sex trafficking to seek out when they are in danger, thanks to a motion by Supervisor Don Knabe that was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors earlier today.

The Safe House Program, originally launched in 1997 by Supervisor Knabe, provides a temporary haven for any child or adult facing a potentially threatening situation and needing a place to go. The program currently includes all Los Angeles County Fire Stations. This motion will expand the Safe House Program to include victims of child sex trafficking and establish more County facilities as safe places for youth to seek out for protection.

“When we launched the Safe House Program nearly 20 years ago, we had no idea our children would need protection from monsters looking to sexually exploit them for money,” said Supervisor Knabe. “These kids are threatened with brutal abuse and violence against themselves and their families if they attempt to escape or do not make their quota. Often times, these children have no place to go for help and end up going back to their pimp and trafficker where they are subjected to more abuse and exploitation. Instead of waiting to be rescued by law enforcement, victims of child sex trafficking will be able to proactively seek out a safe place to hide from their pimp or trafficker and be connected with life-saving wrap-around services that will empower them to escape life on the streets and seek a better and brighter future.”

Following today’s unanimous approval, the Los Angeles County Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Integrated Leadership Team will engage with various County departments and report back to the Board in 60 days on:

*Renaming and rebranding the Safe House Program as the Los Angeles County Safe Youth Zone Program.

*Developing a protocol for when victims of child sex trafficking seek help at a designated Safe Youth Zone.

*An implementation plan that includes strategies to engage County departments and other public safety agencies, train appropriate employees and outreach to the public to educate them about the program.

*A funding plan for implementation, training and other necessary resources.

More Than A Survivor: More Than A Story Photo exhibition Celebration of nationally distinguished survivors of human trafficking

The More Than A Survivor: More Than A Story photo exhibition will premiere at the Museum of Latin American Art today.  This event is a fundraiser to support victims and survivors of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking served by the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Journey Out.  Nationally recognized survivor leaders Nola Brantley, Jessica Midkiff and Stacy Jewell Lewis, who are celebrated in the exhibit, will be present at the reception along with Los Angeles County anti-trafficking leaders.

This extraordinary photo exhibition celebrates the diversity, strength and leadership of human trafficking survivors and their triumph over the most extreme of human rights abuses.  The exhibit features 22 stunning portraits and highlights the accomplishments of prominent survivor leaders in various fields from the arts to politics, science, social services and more.

When:  TODAY, April 14, 2016; 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Where:  Museum of Latin American Art

Speakers:

  • Nola Brantley, Nola Brantley Speaks! (survivor leader)
  • Jessica Midkiff, Nola Brantley Speaks! (survivor leader)
  • Stacy Jewell Lewis, Who is Stolen & Jewell Productions (survivor leader)
  • Stephany Powell, Journey Out
  • Gina Loring, poet
  • Nick Ippolito, Office of Supervisor Don Knabe

Contact: 

Cheryl Burnett, Supervisor Don Knabe, 213-974-1095

Knabe Statement on Successful Anti-Child Sex Trafficking Operation

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe released the following statement regarding Operation Reclaim and Rebuild, which resulted in the arrest of nearly 200 people and the rescue of 12 juvenile victims of child sex trafficking:

“I want to congratulate the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and our federal partners on the tremendous success of Operation Reclaim and Rebuild. Thanks to the work of our law enforcement heroes, 12 children who were brutally forced into a life of exploitation and abuse are now on the path to a better life, and nearly 200 suspects and pimps are off the streets. There’s no such thing as a child prostitute. They are victims—manipulated emotionally and physically into a hellish life. Now free from the clutches of evil, these children will be connected with the lifesaving programs and services they need to escape their nightmare and get on the road to recovery.”

Knabe Continues Fight to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in L.A. County

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In an effort to better protect and keep safe the young victims of child sex trafficking, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe will put forth two motions at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting:

  • Supervisor Knabe will call for the expansion of the County’s Safe House Program in order to create more safe places throughout the region where minors, who are in danger of being exploited by pimps and traffickers, can go to for help. http://bit.ly/csec-safe-house
  • Supervisor Knabe and Supervisor Hilda Solis will ask for the creation of a protocol to administer programs and services for victims of child sex trafficking in Los Angeles County. http://bit.ly/csec-unified

“The number one challenge we are facing in our war on child sex trafficking is keeping kids safe,” said Supervisor Knabe. “Nearly twenty years ago, I created the Safe House Program to protect our most vulnerable population from danger. Now, we have an opportunity to expand a lifesaving, but underused, program to reach children who are being sexually exploited for money. We must leverage every resource available to ensure these victims have a safe place in their own community where they can go to for help. There are fire stations, community centers and libraries all over the County where these children could escape the streets and their trafficker and get the protection they need.”

Once we have the victims in a safe place, we need to have the proper protocols in place to give them the tools and services they need to seek a better life.  The County must bring together all of the good work we are doing and create a consolidated program to ensure we can serve these girls, and give them an opportunity to overcome their trauma.”

L.A. County Continues Aggressive Fight to End Child Sex Trafficking

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe announced a busy week ahead in the war on child sex trafficking, including two motions at the Board of Supervisors and a new awareness campaign with Metro:

•Knabe will request $250,000 to increase training for County staff and community partners to build awareness and better identify victims: http://bit.ly/csec-training

•He will ask for additional advocacy to increase state funding dedicated to counties to help serve the victims of child sex trafficking: http://bit.ly/csec-funding

•On Friday, Knabe will lead an event with Metro officials to launch its “Don’t Be Silent” campaign, an updated awareness campaign urging metro riders to be alert to suspicious activity on buses, trains and at stations: http://www.metro.net/riding/rescue/

“Los Angeles County has become a national leader in the fight to end child sex trafficking, but our work has really just begun,” said Knabe. “We will not let up on our efforts and we know that we cannot do it alone. In our own house, we must continue training our employees and community partners who may unknowingly be interacting with victims. I am also thrilled that Metro will be training all 10,000 of its staff. Each person we train is another set of eyes and ears that can spot children in danger.

“Metro has once again committed resources to launching a new awareness campaign, which the private sector has generously stepped up to support. We also need our state and federal partners to not just talk about ending child exploitation, but to provide the funding we need to support the victims of this horrific crime. It will take every segment of our community, public and private, working together to protect our most vulnerable children.”

L.A. County Seeks Cooperation With Motels to Fight Child Sex Trafficking

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to consider more formal contracts with the motels it has agreements with to house homeless individuals, in order to ensure that they are proactively preventing the trafficking of young victims on their premises.  Included in the contracts, the County will consider a requirement for the motels to sign a statement stating they will not participate in nor allow any form of sex trafficking in their facilities.  The motel operators will also allow law enforcement to check guest registries, take a training session on sex trafficking, and post information with hotline services for reporting this crime.

About the motion, Supervisor Don Knabe said: “The ability for law enforcement to inspect hotel registries without a warrant is a powerful weapon in our fight to end child sex trafficking.  I have heard from both the Sheriff and the District Attorney about how this practice has saved the lives of young girls.  The Fourth Amendment should not be used as an escape clause for sex traffickers; I urge the Supreme Court to overturn the challenge to the LA City ordinance that allows this practice.  I encourage those hotel operators who receive County housing vouchers to join us in the fight against the trafficking of young girl