commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) action committee. The CWC, which will have its quarterly meeting next Wednesday, March 6, is
jointly chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana Dooley and Presiding Justice of the Third District Court of Appeals, Vance Raye.
For more information about the upcoming March 6th Council meeting click here. The meeting will be open to the public.
Responding to the report, Stacey Katz, executive director of the WestCoast Children's Clinic in Oakland, said, "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."
Report author Kate Walker, above, an Equal Justice Works fellow and attorney at the National Center for Youth Law, commented: "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."
The FBI has determined that three of the nation's thirteen High Intensity Child Prostitution areas are located in California (Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, San Diego). Studies estimate that between 50 and 80 percent of commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) are or were formally involved with the child welfare system.
Commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) "are likely to become clients of the agencies who are represented on the [Child Welfare] Council . . . and clearly [the type of] problem that the Council was designed to address," according to co-chair Raye."We all need to come together to reinvent the way we respond to this problem," said Patrick Gardner, president of Young Minds Advocacy Project.
Four of the report's key recommendations:
- Safe, secure and specialized homes for exploited children and children at risk
- New screening tools to help professionals working with children identify both victims and children at risk
- Special training for "child serving" professionals and systems to identify and support vulnerable individuals
- Increased data collection and information sharing to promote collaboration across systems and raise public awareness