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COMMUNITY NEWS: EAST

City Terrace : Runaways Are Focus of State Investigation

July 04, 1993|MARY ANNE PEREZ

State officials will hold hearings July 15 at the Salesian Boys and Girls Club and the Salvation Army in Hollywood to come up with ways to deal with the problem of runaway teen-agers and truants, estimated to number 20,000 in California.

Called "status offenders" in official terms, the teen-agers face danger on the streets, exploitation from adults and illnesses that go untreated, said Sharon English, assistant director of the California Youth Authority Office of Prevention and Victim Services.

"The exploitation by adults, the horror stories are beyond what I even expected," English said.

A 1976 state law prevents police from detaining runaways, but the growing problem has led many in law enforcement and others who run shelters to question that law, English said.

The hearings will gather testimony on whether the youths should be detained and will look at alternatives. The committee conducting the hearings, made up of 32 people appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson from throughout the state, is also investigating how other states handle the problem.

The committee is to gather testimony from six hearings and issue a report to Wilson in January.

The public may speak at the hearings and submit written comments.

The hearings will be at Salesian Boys and Girls Club, 3218 Wabash Ave., from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and at the Salvation Army, 5941 Hollywood Blvd., from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

Information: (213) 227-4114.

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