The mission of the Child Rescue Project / South Los Angeles is to provide immediate crisis care and empowerment services to runaway children and transitional age youth (TAY) in high crime gang infested areas of South Los Angeles.
As Inner City Visions begins phase 1 of the child rescue project, I am constanly reminded of the daily challenges that children face as runaways trying to survive in the most basic way(s). Over looked, forgotten and hidden in a subculture that allows children to be systematically abused and raped by peratrators who are all too often the very people who are entrusted to protect and love them…
Many of the runaways and children who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation in South Los Angeles are trapped in a gang entrenched culture often compounded by a family dynamic of neglect, abuse and criminal activity. Currently, a rapidly growing population of children continues to be trapped in these high crime/ gang infested areas. According to a New York Time’s article …“The barriers to rescuing these children are steep: state cuts to mental health services, child welfare agencies incapable of preventing them from running away. After years of abuse, trauma and neglect, the children also tend to trust no one. The longer they are on the streets, experts say, the more likely they are to become involved in crime and uncooperative with the authorities”.
In the United States alone there are between 100,000 and 300,000 American girls under the age of 18 who are currently being sexually exploited by traffickers. One out of three runaway children will be approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of leaving home. The average age of entry into the sex industry in the United States is just 12 years old. Girls who are trafficked into the United States from other countries are given proper after-care services once they are rescued, but American girls are more often arrested and treated as criminals, while their traffickers and abusers most often remain free.
Los Angeles and Orange Counties have two of the highest number of commercially sexually exploited children in the United States. Their large population, high tourism rate, and proximity to Las Vegas create a high demand for all forms of “adult entertainment,” resulting in the commercial sexual exploitation of thousands of child victims every year within these areas.