According to a report released by the National Center for Youth Law, on ending commercial sexual exploitation of children in California, “Every day, the unthinkable happens: thousands of America’s children are coerced into performing sex for hire. Exploitation can start as young as age ten.
Some exploited children are brutally beaten and raped. Others are isolated, drugged, and starved until they become “willing” participants. Yet, these children are regularly arrested and held in juvenile detention facilities even though they are victims of crime.”
According to the FBI, between 50 and 80 percent of commercially sexually exploited children are, or were formally involved with, the child welfare system. According to Leslie Heimov, Executive Director of Children’s Law Center of California, “the more we learn about child sex trafficking, the clearer it becomes that we are facing a national crisis. Without safe placements, access to highly trained therapists and other experts, we are powerless to stop the brutalization and re-victimization of the youth the child welfare system seeks to protect.”
Stacey Katz, Executive Director of an agency that serves over 100 commercially sexually exploited children per year in Alameda County, California, states, “We know from our daily work that the level of system coordination required to address the emotional trauma, constant physical danger and coercive techniques used by traffickers does not yet exist in California. The traffickers benefit directly from these system gaps. Until the agencies responsible for serving and protecting young people come together, we will continue to see youth who are severely traumatized and whose lives are in danger. We can do better by these youth-this is not an issue of resources. It’s an issue of will.”