The vast majority of children on prostitution charges live in the Fourth District of Los Angeles County, according to a statement posted Monday on Supervisor Don Knabe's blog.
According to the supervisor, some of the girls are only 11 or 12 years old. Numbers provided by Knabe's office to the Press-Telegram for a story published Sunday indicate that 174 children were arrested in L.A. County on prostitution charges in 2010. Eighty-four percent of those children were arrested in Long Beach and the South Bay.
Countywide, 136 children were arrested on prostitution charges through September 2010.
Nevertheless, Knabe believes the numbers "are representative of a much larger number of girls forced into prostitution who have not yet been arrested, or are not being determined to be sexual victims in screenings when placed in either foster care [or] the juvenile justice system."
"That's part of the biggest problem on this issue—we don't know what we don't know," Knabe wrote.
The supervisor also said that he planned to ask the Probation Department to take a closer look at child prostitution and possibly establish a special unit dedicated to sexually exploited minors.
"Then we can aggressively address prevention tactics, figure out ways to combat the problem and develop aftercare programs," he said.
A 2011 report by the Department of State says that according to FBI statistics from 2009, 235 boys and 844 girls under the age of 18 were arrested on prostitution charges nationwide—an increase from 206 boys and 643 girls in 2008.
The Press-Telegram cites a 2009 State Department report that says 300,000 children in the U.S. are at risk for sexual exploitation.