Campaign launched in California to combat crimes against children

FRESNO, Calif. -- California attorney general Kamala Harris has launched a new statewide campaign to combat crimes against children.

Fresno's Motel Drive is known as a location where women and young children are forced against their will into the sex trade. Sgt. Curt Chastain heads a group of Fresno police officers who focus on human trafficking. He's rescued victims as young as 13-years-old from pimps on the streets.

"We are seeing victims that are being recruited and obtained out of foster care, group home, and runaways. Within 24 and 48 hours of being a runaway you have such a huge percentage of being caught up in the sex trade," said Chastain.

Harris has now dedicated an entire division to helping kids from unstable home environments. According to the Bureau of Children's Justice, 42% of students in foster care in California do not graduate from high school and 50% of children sold into trafficking in our state are from the foster care system.

"The smartest thing is prevention. Putting our resources in prevention, that will be most effective approach to ending the epidemic," said Harris.

The campaign will focus on stopping truancy at schools. Joe Martinez is with Fresno's EOC Sanctuary which provides a safe place for young people in crisis. He says kids who miss school tend to break the law themselves.

"It means that person is going to be behind, is going to have a difficult time in life, is going to have a hard time to find a job and to support themselves. Statistics also show when I person doesn't graduate their chances increase of turning to crime," said Martinez.

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