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at-risk youth



San Diego Youth Services
Point Loma Campus
3255 Wing Street
San Diego, CA  92110
(619) 221-8600




STARS (Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success)

Every year between 100,000 to 300,000 youth are at risk for falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation with the average age of entry between 12-14 years of age.  The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is a form of sexual abuse by adults in which sexual services are exchanged for money, goods or services to the child or a third person (i.e. a pimp).   CSEC may include prostitution, pornography, stripping, etc.  It is a form of modern day slavery. 

STARS (Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success), is a program for teen girls between the ages of 12-24 involved with commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.  STARS provides support to empower the youth to escape sexual exploitation by developing their inner strengths, building a sense of community and supporting their reintegration into mainstream society. 

The program meets once a week for a minimum of 12 weeks and provides participants with independent living skills, individual/group counseling utilizing the “My Life My Choice Curriculum©”, recreational opportunities, case management and expressive art therapy.  In addition, the program provides young women with: 

  • Facilitated community referrals for school, health, job placement, etc.
  • Assistance in obtaining identification and legal documents, for example California ID, Birth Certificate and Social Security Card
  • Transportation
  • Dinner and snacks at each group
  • Incentives for attending program
  • Childcare for parenting teens
  • Graduation ceremony and certificate of completion

To download a referral form, click here.
To download a program fact sheet, click here

Expressive Arts Program

The Expressive Arts Therapy Program is designed to support healing and personal expression though visual art, writing, photography, theater and dance.  Out of this work, the CSEC H&nds Project emerged from the larger H&nds project of SDYS. 

The CSEC H&nds project is a social intervention through the arts.  STARS participants expressed the survivor’s perspective by writing statements on their hands directed to specific figures involved in CSEC who both helped or hurt them which were then photographed. The photos were then shown to direct service providers and law enforcement focused on CSEC prevention that then included statements on their own hands. All the photos were then complied by the STARS participants into a book that was designed to “Close the Circle” on CSEC.

View STARS H&nds Project

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