The Los Angeles County Probation Department has been a leader across the county, state and nation in the fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for underage youth has not waivered and the department continues to be at the forefront battling the recent increase of cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children, or CSEC.
Because of the tremendous achievements the department has accomplished over the past eight years, L.A. County Probation on Monday released a report titled “ll Hands on Deck: Identifying and Supporting Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth in the Juvenile Justice System.” This report is a reflection on the department’s efforts over the past eight years to better identify and serve youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and a tool kit for other jurisdictions doing, or just beginning, this work.
Over the past eight years, the department has provided leadership in facilitating CSEC training to more than 26,000 county employees and community partners.
Last year, the Probation Department collaborated with elected officials, public agencies, and community partners to launch the “Detention Interagency Identification and Response Protocol for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children and Youth.” This Protocol defines responsibilities for the agencies to actively identify children in detention, ensure they have the necessary supports while in custody, and effectively plan for and support their transition back to the community.
The Department continues to work closely with community partners to provide leadership for various other protocols currently being developed in Los Angeles County.
According to Interim Chief Probation Officer Ray Leyva, the Los Angeles County Probation Department has shown that an effective approach to better identifying and supporting youth who have experienced exploitation requires a multi-agency coordinated response.
“I would like to recognize the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, public safety agencies and current and former Probation employees involved with the Department’s Child Trafficking Unit (CTU) for their commitment to identifying and supporting youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation,” Chief Leyva expressed. “I am proud of the CTU and how hard they work day and night to ensure each youth feels supported, cared for and empowered.”
Michelle Guymon is the Director of Probation’s Child Trafficking Unit and serves on Governor Gavin Newsom’s Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency for the Board of State and Community Corrections. As the founder of the CTU, she appreciates the dedication and compassion that the staff pours into each of their clients.
“I am so proud of the Child Trafficking Unit, and I am inspired daily by their commitment to supporting and empowering our youth and I am humbled to walk alongside them,” Guymon said. “As we move forward to take our next steps to better identify and support youth who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation, I hope agencies across the country can apply the lessons learned by L.A. County and apply them during this COVID-19 era and provide victims the services and on-going support that they need. It has been very disheartening to see a spike in trafficking victims being sold on the streets of Los Angeles, but as a team, we will continue to be there for our youth who need our help.”
“All Hands On Deck: Identifying and Supporting Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth in the Juvenile Justice System” can be found at https://probation.lacounty.gov/child-traffic-unit/.