Child Sex Trafficking

Board of Supervisors Supports Tougher Penalties for Gang Members Convicted of Human Trafficking

On a motion from Supervisor Don Knabe, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today voted unanimously to support and co-sponsor legislation that would add pimping, pandering, and human trafficking to the list of crimes that are associated with gang activity.

“Untold numbers of children fall victim to predatory adults, many of whom have ties to criminal street gangs,” said Supervisor Knabe. “They are sexually exploited and abused in unspeakably brutal ways, all for commercial gain. Criminal street gangs have embraced human trafficking as a lucrative revenue source; as sex trafficking now rivals narcotic sales as the major source of revenue for many gangs.”

Senate Bill 473, authored by Senator Marty Block and sponsored by San Diego County would create tougher penalties for gang members convicted of human trafficking, including adding a three year prison sentence for anyone convicted of a human trafficking crime that occurs on or within 1,000 feet of a school.

“This legislation would be a major step forward in putting an end to the physical and mental abuse of these young girls,” said Knabe.

To learn more about sex trafficking in Los Angeles County, visit http://youtu.be/tJlkLFSmbb4.

Knabe Announces Expansion of Anti-Child Sex Trafficking Campaign

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe announced today that the county’s anti-child sex trafficking awareness campaign will expand to millions more residents, thanks to a donation of billboard space by the Lamar Advertising Company. Billboards carrying the county’s anti-child sex trafficking messaging will be posted on 100 billboards throughout Los Angeles County this week and will remain posted for an entire month.

“A public that is aware and informed of the horrific child sex trafficking industry is our greatest tool in protecting these young victims,” said Supervisor Don Knabe. “We must continue to raise the profile on the sexual exploitation of our young girls and shine a light on a heinous crime that is happening right here in our communities and neighborhoods.”

Los Angeles County is proud to partner with the Lamar Advertising Company to continue its anti-child sex trafficking campaign outreach.

“Child sex trafficking is a grisly and unimaginable act and the Lamar Advertising Company is supportive of this campaign to bring awareness to the public,” said Lamar Advertising Company general manager Ray Baker. “This is a true example of government and the private sector working together and expanding a campaign that could save the lives of young victims.”

The campaign, originally called for by Supervisor Knabe, included messaging at Metro train stations and bus stops, as well as on all rail cars, trains and over 3,000 buses in both English and Spanish. Additionally, anti-child sex trafficking messaging was placed on over 50 digital displays and 15 traditional billboards across Los Angeles County.

To learn more about child sex trafficking in Los Angeles County, visit http://youtu.be/tJlkLFSmbb4.

In the Spotlight

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Los Angeles County has created a set of protocols for law enforcement and front-line staff to follow when they come into contact with a suspected victim of child sex trafficking. With our intervention, these girls will receive much needed support, mentoring and other wraparound services to help empower them to escape the streets and walk the path to a bright future. Visit Don’s Blog for More

Board of Supervisors Supports CASE Act to Fight Child Sex Trafficking

On a motion from Supervisor Don Knabe, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today voted unanimously to support the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (CASE) Act which would strengthen penalties against human traffickers and protect sexually exploited children.  The Board also urged all voters in Los Angeles County and throughout the State to vote in favor of the CASE Act in the November 2012 statewide election.

If enacted into law, the CASE Act would be the toughest human trafficking law in the country.  It would increase prison terms for human traffickers, require convicted sex traffickers to register as sex offenders, mandate training for law enforcement officers, and require criminal fines from convicted human traffickers to pay for services to help victims.

“Communities through the United States are facing the horrific reality of child sex trafficking occurring right here on our streets and in our neighborhoods.  It is not a problem ‘over there,’” said Knabe.  “Sadly, Los Angeles County is recognized as one of the major hubs for this criminal activity.  The average age of a victim that is sexually trafficked is between 12 and 14 years of age.

I want Los Angeles County to be a national leader in fighting this heinous crime and protecting our vulnerable youth.  Earlier this year, I asked the County’s Probation Department to implement a program that will give the girls who come into our system a chance to heal and an opportunity for a new life.  But we must also deal with the real criminals here – the pimps who forcibly coerce and manipulate young girls into selling their bodies for their financial benefit.  The CASE Act would be a major step forward in enacting tougher penalties and putting an end to the physical and mental abuse of these young girls.”

Knabe Calls For Human Sex Trafficking Public Outreach on Metro Buses, Trains

Metro will launch a campaign to increase public awareness of human sex-trafficking in Los Angeles County, thanks to a motion by Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe that was unanimously approved at today’s Metro Board meeting. Metro will post information about sexually-trafficked youth on Metro buses, rail cars, trains, at stations and on its website.

Over the past several years Los Angeles County has seen a significant increase in the number of sexually trafficked youth. Minors, some as young as 12 years old, are forcibly coerced and manipulated by adults and are enslaved and sexually exploited for commercial gain.

“Every day in Los Angeles County, children are transported on Metro buses and trains and we have an opportunity to make the public aware that some kids may be there against their will and a victim of human sex trafficking,” said Supervisor Knabe.

Supervisor Knabe’s motion directs Metro to develop and implement the public awareness campaign, and report back in February and March with updates on its progress.

“Posting information on Metro buses, trains, at stations, and on Metro’s website, will shine a light on this travesty in the places it can be most likely to occur,” said Supervisor Knabe. “We must do our part to help bring those individuals responsible for the abuse and exploitation of children to justice.”

Probation Department Begins Training to Combat Child Sex Trafficking

The Probation Department and Juvenile Delinquency Court has been awarded $350,000 per year, for the next three years, to implement a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for sexually trafficked females in the juvenile justice system.

Over the past several years Los Angeles County has seen a significant increase in the number of sexually trafficked youth, and is recognized among law enforcement as one of the major hubs for sex trafficking in the State and Nation.  Currently the county lacks victim centered services for sexually trafficked youth who are in the juvenile justice system.

The proposed program will be a part of a partnership with the Courts, Federal and local law enforcement agencies, medical/mental health services, and community providers. The goal is to develop an effective partnership and diversion process that includes rehabilitative services for sexually exploited youth who are currently in the criminal justice system in Los Angeles County.

The program will be funded by the newly awarded Title II Formula Block Grant that supports state and local delinquency prevention, intervention efforts, and juvenile justice system improvements.   The pilot program will include medical and mental health assessment, enhanced supervision, focused treatment and services either within a placement program or in the community, mentoring, and aftercare.

For more information about the new training program, please contact Michelle Guymon at (626)236-5405 or Hania Cardenas at (562) 335-7760.

LA County Takes Up Fight Against Child Sex Trafficking

At today’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Meeting, Supervisor Don Knabe commemorated National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  “While we often think of child sex trafficking as a problem in other countries, it’s happening right here in our backyard to girls as young as 11 and 12,” said Knabe.

The children arrested for prostitution are often released, as it is a misdemeanor charge.  “We think these numbers are representative of a much larger number of girls forced into prostitution who have not yet been arrested, or are not being determined to be sexual victims in screenings when placed in either foster care of the juvenile justice system,” said Knabe.  “It’s the biggest problem we have on this issue – we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Knabe recognized employees from the Probation Department, Michelle Guymon and Hania Cardenas, for their initiative and leadership in raising awareness of this issue.  “Michelle and Hania have gone above and beyond their regular duties, spending countless hours of their personal time, to shine a light on this travesty and advocate for rehabilitation and healing that is specific for victims of this crime,” said Knabe.

Knabe also called for the Probation Department to track and gather more statistics to better understand the breadth of the issue.  Based on this increased knowledge, he called for more aggressive prevention tactics to combat the problem and more focus on developing aftercare programs.  Knabe asked for the Department to look at the possibility of establishing a special unit in Probation, dedicated to sexually exploited minors and the development of specialized services for the victims of this horrendous crime.

“These young girls have often suffered in their own homes and then move to a life on the streets where they are further victimized by local pimps and gangs,” said Knabe.  “As a grandfather it is horrifying to think of the lives these young girls face.  We must do everything we can to get these girls off the streets and on a path to a better life ahead.”