LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to rebrand and expand its network of safe havens for victims of child sex trafficking.
Supervisor Don Knabe recommended the change to the Safe House Program.
“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,” Knabe said. “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.”
The program, originally designed to provide a temporary safe place for any child or adult facing a threatening situation with nowhere to run, includes all county fire stations. It will now explicitly serve victims of child sex trafficking.
“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,” Knabe said.
Knabe drew parallels to the Safe Surrender Program, which allows mothers to surrender an infant that is no more than three days old to any county fire station or hospital, as long as the infant shows no signs of abuse. Since that program began in 2001, 145 infants have been surrendered.
A county team will work on identifying more facilities for what will now be called the Los Angeles County Safe Youth Zone Program, as well as designing a protocol for helping children and detailing plans for training county employees and educating residents.
A report is expected back in 60 days.