There is No Such Thing as a Child Prostitute

An article in this week’s East Bay Express denounces the treatment of sexually exploited youth as criminals. There are over 100 girls sold for sex in Oakland every night. They are often arrested instead of given the services they need as victims.

Reporter Lynsey Clark interviewed WestCoast staff including Adela Rodarte, TAYS Service Coordinator; Jodie Langs, Policy & Communications Director; and Stacey Katz, Executive Director.

It seems to me that no matter what we believe, our current practice of incarcerating youth says: ‘You’ve done something wrong and that’s why we’re locking you up and charging you with a crime.’ This conveys the same thing that their traffickers do — that no one cares what happens to you.

The recently passed 2014-15 State Budget is helping to change that. The final State Budget includes unprecedented funding for child welfare agencies to provide services through the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Program. These resources are a critical first step toward helping communities like Oakland meet the needs of sexually exploited youth.

You can help raise awareness about child sex trafficking in Oakland and the recent changes to California’s response by forwarding this email or sharing the East Bay Express article on facebook and twitter.

*Please note that the article states Assembly Bill 2035 failed to move forward in the Legislature, however the bill continues to work through the legislative process.