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.