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California urged to do more to help sexually exploited minors

June 13, 2012 | 10:45 am

California has pioneered legislation to prevent sexual exploitation of minors but a new report urges the state to go even further to help victims, including the clearing of records for young people convicted of prostitution.

The California Homeless Youth Project said California is among the states with the best records for adopting measures to address trafficking of minors.

"While California is making efforts to strengthen legislation in the fight against sexual exploitation, it is clear that there are areas where further policy change would be beneficial," said the report being distributed to state lawmakers.

About 60% of minors who are sexually victimized are homeless, and end up being coerced into prostitution, pornography and other harmful activities, according to the report authored by Shahera Hyatt, director of the group.

In addition to expunging records for prostitution, the report recommends that the state lower the burden of proof for prosecuting those engaged in sex trafficking, reinstate California’s dormant Human Trafficking Task Force, and ensure that minors involved in commercial sex are not prosecuted for prostitution but instead provided with specialized services.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

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