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L.A. County Officials Move Towards Creating Task Force To Halt Child Prostitution

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Some children in L.A. County’s foster care system are reportedly being recruited as child prostitutes and officials want a new task force to address the problem.

“The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 years old, and the average life expectancy following entry is seven years,” said County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, citing sources from the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI.

Earlier this month, voters approved a measure that increases prison terms for human traffickers, requires convicted traffickers to register as sex offenders and mandates training for law enforcement officers. Proposition 35 also requires criminal fines to help victims.

Supervisor Don Knabe has also backed initiatives by the county’s probation department to fight child prostitution and thrown his support behind an ad campaign designed to raise awareness of the issue.

In 2010, Antonovich said authorities arrested 174 minors for prostitution-related crimes in L.A. County.

Antonovich said he was especially concerned about children in the county’s foster care system. He said pimps were recruiting foster care children at the Department of Children and Family Services emergency center and from group homes across the county.

“These children often come from broken homes with a history of neglect and abuse, and foster children often overlap with runaway and homeless youth with a lack of resources, that makes them more vulnerable,” Antonovich said.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved the creation of a task force Tuesday to find additional ways to combat the problem, which would require working with the Department of Children and Family Services, the District Attorney’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, other law enforcement agencies and the Department of Mental Health.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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