The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today approved the creation of a task force to address the grave issue of children in the county's foster care system being recruited as child prostitutes.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich, citing sources from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, said that "the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 years old, and the average life expectancy following entry is seven years," according to City News Service. Antonovich added, "These children often come from broken homes with a history of neglect and abuse, and foster children often overlap with runaway and homeless youth with a lack of resources that makes them more vulnerable."
Among other statistics, Antonovich noted that 174 children under the age of 18 were arrested for prostitution-related crimes in L.A. County in 2010. Some of those children were under the care of the Department of Children and Family Services emergency center when they were recruited by pimps. Other recruits came from group homes.
Voters approved Proposition 35 earlier this month, which "increases prison terms for human traffickers, requires convicted traffickers to register as sex offenders, mandates training for law enforcement officers and requires criminal fines to help victims," says CNS.
Earlier this year, the L.A. County Probation Department was awarded a $1 million grant to actively combat the issue.
Today's approval mandates the DCFS to team up with the Probation Department, District Attorney's Office, Sheriff's Department, other law enforcement agencies and the Department of Mental Health to develop additional methods for battling child sex trafficking.