Los Angeles County is one of the nation’s major hubs for sex trafficking—specifically children. The Los Angeles County Probation Department continues to be a national leader in the fight to help save these young victims. National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is observed annually on January 11; however, the entire month of January has been dedicated to shining a much needed light on this epidemic.
On Monday, January 29, Camp Joseph Scott, the Department’s all-female juvenile residential treatment facility, hosted its first Youth Dignity Restoration Symposium, a morning of dialogue intended to educate Probation staff and the youth in their care about the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). Deputy Probation Officer (DPO) Jerron Mosley came up with the idea for the symposium, seeing the need for a program that would educate probation youth about the nuances of the sex trafficking industry. Representatives from Operation Read and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (DMH) attended the seminar which included tips for girls to build confidence, self-reliance and empowerment.
“This call to action symposium was critical to all attendees,” said Camp Scott Director Sharmane Franklin. “I was utterly impressed with how focused our girls were and the questions they asked. DPO Mosley has formed a profound bond with our youth and is deeply committed to the safety, dignity, education, and protection of our youth, namely our CSEC population.”
Keynote speakers and CSEC survivors Tika Thornton and Barbara Vasquez offered valuable insight into understanding trauma and the value of utilizing therapy as a part of recovery. Thornton and Vasquez, who met decades earlier as probation youth housed at Camp Scott, now work as Crisis Response Case Managers at local community based organizations whose mission is to serve youth who are victims of sex crimes. Their shared personal and professional insight into the human trafficking industry led to a robust discussion with the Camp Scott youth about the physical and psychological consequences of “the life.”
“The authenticity and depth that the presenters brought to the room during the human trafficking presentation struck a chord deep within all of us,” said DMH therapist Dr. Aaron Karpman. “The feedback I received from my clients, fellow therapists, and probation officers was unanimously positive and heartfelt. I hope we can have this presentation and presenters as a regular part of the program at Camp Scott.”