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Supes Want to Train Foster Parents to Spot Signs of Sexual Exploitation

Pimps and gang members often target children in foster care and group homes, officials said.

Los Angeles County officials want to train foster parents, social workers and other caregivers to spot signs of sexual exploitation in children. Patch file photo.
Los Angeles County officials want to train foster parents, social workers and other caregivers to spot signs of sexual exploitation in children. Patch file photo.

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors asked staffers today to look into programs to train foster parents, social workers and other caregivers to spot the signs of sexual exploitation in children.

Hundreds of children, some as young as 12 years old, are sold for sex each year in Los Angeles County, according to Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe, who have championed efforts to stop sex trafficking.

Pimps and gang members often target children in foster care and group homes.

But parents and even trained social workers often miss the signs of such exploitation, according to experts and survivors.

"Education is the best inoculation," said Rachel Thomas, a survivor of sex trafficking who founded Sowers Education Group with her husband to alert girls to the dangers. "If I had known what to look for, if my parents had known what to look for, I may have been spared."

Thomas said that more than half of victims are from the child welfare system.

"Most of them are not being kidnapped randomly. They are lured. There's a grooming process. A recognizable honeymoon phase with recognizable signs," Thomas told the board.

The board directed staffers to return in 30 days with a report on the feasibility of requiring colleges who train social workers to develop courses on the subject and mandating that foster parents and group home staffers complete annual training on sexual exploitation. Potential sources of funding will also be evaluated.

--City News Service


Charles Murray March 26, 2014 at 12:05 PM
Despicable and disgusting. But it's not surprising in the least that the system allows things like this to go on, based on how any government agencies seem to operate (or fail to operate as it may be). Although I cannot judge any particular foster family or group home, I have seen too many situations where the fostering feels money-motivated. Therefore, it would make sense that such "foster parents" would allow these kids to be exposed to such abuses, as long as the dollar is king. Shame.
Henry Xavier March 26, 2014 at 12:52 PM
There are other avenues that Churches have known well before the city's have been alerted of exploration of minors in various ways. Now the city's have considered to use churches to help solve this problem. One of them is called the "Dream Center". Your contribution to Angelus Temple is greatly appreciated to stop this, as we continue on the right path. We have tours of the "Dream Center" on Sunday near Echo Park downtown L.A. Henry
mimi March 26, 2014 at 08:49 PM
I can assure you that social workers, probation officers, foster parents and employees of group homes are well versed in the signs of sexual exploitation of children. The problem isn't lack of education or not knowing what to look for. The issue is ENFORCEMENT Of the laws that protect minors from predators. The system is broken, corrupt and in need of a complete overhaul. Until and unless that happens, nothing is going to change. One more training class will assuage the guilt of those who should be reporting the crimes instead of looking the other way.

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