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.

Will Governor Brown do the right thing?

Dear WestCoast Community:

Today the Oakland Tribune published an op-ed co-authored by WestCoast’s Executive Director, Stacey Katz, and the Director of Alameda County Social Services, Lori Cox.

Help us spread the word: Post the article on Facebook and Twitter with #CAstopCSEC, or forward this email to a friend.

Thank you,

Jodie Langs
Policy Director

Tell Governor Brown to help sexually exploited children

Dear WestCoast Community:

The Legislature recently voted to invest $20.3 million in State funding to protect and serve commercially sexually exploited children through California’s child welfare system. Now we need your help to make sure Governor Brown approves these funds in the 2014-15 State Budget. The final budget will be determined in the coming days. 

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We Need Your Help: May 30 Call-In Day to Support Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act

Dear WestCoast Community:The Justice For Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA), S. 1738 is the only comprehensive human trafficking legislation that provides funding for the services that sexually exploited youth need to heal. It also addresses the demand that drives the sex trafficking market by giving law enforcement the prosecutorial tools needed to target those who purchase sex from minors.The House of Representatives unanimously passed the JVTA last week. Now we need the Senate to take up the legislation in order for it to become law.

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WCC hosts symposium on sexually exploited youth

Dear WestCoast Community,

On April 17, we hosted a symposium to surface some of the key dilemmas we face in adequately serving exploited youth, We Can Do Better: Improving our response to child sex trafficking in Alameda County. The panel and subsequent discussion is meant to guide our collective efforts towards improving the system for youth. To learn more about the symposium, please read this article in the Chronicle of Social Change.

You can take action right now to improve services for sexually exploited youth. Click here to learn more about current legislative proposals, and how to support them.

We extend our thanks to the sponsors who supported the symposium, Chabot-Las Positas Community College DistrictZellerbach Family Foundation, andGirls Rights Project. We are also grateful to our panelists, who represent a range of organizations and systems that work with trafficked youth: Continue reading

Rise in children’s psychiatric hospitalizations

An article in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee reports a nearly 40% increase in youth psychiatric hospitalizations in California between 2007 and 2012. A decline in the availability of crisis response services and therapeutic residential treatment has left parents and social workers with few other options besides emergency rooms.WestCoast’s community-based mental health services, which are mobile and intensive, help to fill the gap between traditional therapy and hospitalization.

Read the article here.

Have you seen these billboards?

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The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and MISSSEY have launched a campaign to put child sex traffickers on notice, reach out to victims, and ask for community support to end trafficking. The 27 billboards and 30 bus shelter ads placed throughout Oakland have three clear messages. District Attorney Nancy O’Malley speaks to the goals of the campaign in no uncertain terms:

  • To the buyers and sellers of children for sex: You will be prosecuted in Alameda County by my office, which leads the nation in human trafficking prosecutions.
  • To victims and survivors: Getting out of the situation is possible, others have survived and “U can 2.”
  • To the community: It is time to come together and end sex trafficking. 

Spread the word–we have zero tolerance for trafficking in our neighborhoods. Share this blog post on Facebook, and report suspicious behavior to the human trafficking hotline by phone 1 (888) 373-7888 or text Be Free (233733).

WestCoast Children’s Clinic works with over 100 sexually exploited youth at any given time. We need your help.