March 14, 2019 1:39 pm
Los Angeles County is launching a new, interagency protocol to improve efforts to proactively identify and serve exploited youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The Detention Interagency Identification and Response Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children and Youth is the result of a strong, collaborative partnership between the Probation Department, the Departments of Children and Family Services, Health Services, Mental Health, and Public Health, the Office of Education, and the National Center for Youth Law and builds on the County’s expansive work and initiatives to support children and youth who have been commercially sexually exploited (CSE).
“While our County has long recognized that children and youth who have been commercially sexually exploited are victims of child abuse and should not be criminalized for what they have experienced, unfortunately they often still end up in contact with the juvenile justice system, for issues both related and unrelated to their exploitation,” says Michelle Guymon, Director of the L.A County Probation Department’s Child Trafficking Unit. “This protocol recognizes that when these youth do come into our custody and care, it is our responsibility and duty to identify that they have been exploited, report the exploitation as child abuse, build trusting relationships with the young person, and work collaboratively across multiple agencies to support them in meeting their myriad needs while also building on their strengths and cultivating their goals and aspirations.” The Protocol also prioritizes connecting youth with services and supports in the community to smooth the transition from detention facilities.