Building Bridges: How Los Angeles County Came Together to Support Children and Youth Impacted by Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Los Angeles County
By Allison Newcombe, Erin French, Kate Walker Brown, National CenterCERP for Youth Law;
Michelle Guymon, Los Angeles County Probation Department
November 23, 2020
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LOS ANGELES COUNTY’S STORY
Los Angeles County, one of the nation’s most populous counties in the country, is also the site for large numbers of children and youth being victimized through commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). Over the last decade, Los Angeles County has devoted significant time, energy, and resources to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth (CSEC/Y). The County’s work has been driven by survivors—the individuals who have lived experience and whose lives are most affected by the policy and practice changes implemented.
Los Angeles County’s story consists of many layers; with each step forward, new information is learned, and the County uses that information to re-inform practice and build upon prior layers of work. The foundation of the County’s efforts has been to educate the masses and bring awareness of the issue to agency partners and community members. And the County’s approach has been responsive to, and played a role in moving forward, legislative changes.
Recognizing that no one agency or organization can effectively address this issue alone, the County has fostered collaboration among community organizations and government agencies. The County has also designed innovative protocols to identify and support youth as well as provide other targeted activities and educational opportunities. All of the work in Los Angeles County has been focused on one primary goal—more effectively serving and supporting youth both to prevent exploitation from occurring and to intervene effectively, when necessary.
The County has made tremendous progress over the past decade, learned many lessons along the way, and also recognizes that there is more work to be done. This report lays out the County’s efforts, highlighting the individual champions who have been instrumental along the way. We believe this report will offer ideas, strategies, and hope for other jurisdictions.