Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Shelter for CSEC Victims

Great news! Boston’s DCF has taken the lead to open a CSEC specialized home before anyone else in the country, and we will keep advocating for this until we can get it here too….

DSS to help teen sex slaves
Figures: 70 percent of prostitutes are runaways

By Marie Szaniszlo
Sunday, June 15, 2008

The state Department of Social Services will open more than a dozen beds for youngsters next month as part of a groundbreaking $1 million program to help victims of sexual exploitation.

Beginning July 1, DSS will reserve nine beds at a secure, undisclosed Boston location for girls ages 12 to 21, most of whom are former runaways who were coerced into prostitution, said Jennifer Kritz, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The move comes amid a spike in cases of runaway teens who become prostitutes. “In recent years, there have been growing concerns nationally about youth exploitation and human trafficking,” Kritz said.

Lisa Goldblatt-Grace, director of the My Life, My Choice prostitution prevention program at the Home For Little Wanderers in Boston, called DSS’s program “groundbreaking, both for Massachusetts and nationally.”

“This is the first time in our entire country that a child-protective services system has stepped up to the plate in terms of providing money, resources and time to fund a continuum of care for commercially, sexually exploited kids,” Goldblatt-Grace said.

Statistics released in 2007 from the Teen Prostitution Prevention Project indicated that 70 percent of underage prostitutes identified in Suffolk County since 2005 are runaways. Nationwide, National Runaway Switchboard estimates that 1.6 to 2.8 million youths run away every year, and many are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

Last week, a 17-year-old runaway from Boylston who had been kidnapped and forced into prostitution in New York was found shaking and beaten in Brighton after she bolted from her captor’s car. The victim gave a description of the car and her alleged kidnapper was arrested.

The state also is setting aside five beds for girls, boys and transgender youngsters in private homes with foster parents specially trained to work with teenagers who have been sexually exploited, Kritz said.

“There’s definitely a huge need for safe beds for these kids,” said Stacy Dellorfano, development officer at Bridge Over Troubled Waters in Boston. “A lot of these kids come from broken families. They’re runaways - sometimes throwaways - who fall into the wrong hands.”

All 14 youngsters, as well as approximately three dozen others referred by DSS, also will have a mentor to help guide them, Kritz said.

“In most communities, child protective services say this is a juvenile justice problem,” Goldblatt-Grace said. “In Boston, we know these are kids who have survived, who are strong and who have a right to have adults who don’t betray them and don’t exploit them and instead go to great lengths to ensure their safety so that they can find hope.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1100873

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