Is it a scandal if it happens all the time?

In Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, WestCoast Children’s Clinic CEO, Stacey Katz, and Adela Rodarte, assistant program director of our C-Change program, give a more complete picture of what’s really happening with child sex trafficking victims: They are routinely abused by people charged with protecting them. This is a systemic and cultural problem, not an isolated incident of law enforcement misconduct.

“[It’s] not a scandal—it’s something that’s happening all the time. The problem is systemic.” – Stacey Katz

Continue reading

An Update

Dear WestCoast Community,

This fall, I joined a Blue Ribbon Commission tasked with informing state policy to improve the response to children who are commercially sexually exploited. Convened by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley through the Human Exploitation and Trafficking (H.E.A.T.) Institute, the Commission is comprised of 14 leaders from child welfare, education, criminal justice, health, and other nonprofits across California. Through seven regional hearings, the Commission has heard testimony on the strengths and gaps in our current system of care for exploited youth. Our work will culminate in a final report with recommendations to policy makers for a comprehensive system to respond to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Continue reading

“If I’m a victim, why am I in this jail cell?”

Dear WestCoast Community:

Children who are bought and sold for sex are often arrested for prostitution rather than receiving the protection and support provided to victims of rape and child abuse. At WestCoast, 73% of the youth we serve in our intensive mental health program for commercially sexually exploited youth have been involved in the juvenile justice system as a result of their exploitation.

Continue reading

Latino youths see big rise in psychiatric hospitalizations

The Sacramento Bee reports, “While mental health hospitalizations of young people of all ethnicities have climbed in recent years, Latino rates stand out. Among those 21 and younger, rates shot up 86 percent, to 17,813, between 2007 and 2014, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. That’s compared with a 21 percent increase among whites and 35 percent among African Americans.”