Victims of sex trafficking will soon have an official drop in center, a first for Bexar County.
"Centro Seguro" will serve as a safe place for children involved in sex trafficking crimes. Bexar County Juvenile Probation is partnering with Roy Maas Youth Alternatives (RMYA) to build the center using grants from the government.
RMYA CEO Bill Wilkinson says that sex abuse victims have unique needs, very different from a runaway.
"They often don't see themselves as victims," he said. "They see themselves as making a choice, even though that's the furthest thing from the truth."
The center is undergoing remodeling but will feature new bedrooms, basketball courts, and playgrounds.
The Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault released a study in early 2017 revealing that there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, including almost 79,000 children.
"They need people to provide them wrap around services instead of getting into the legal system," Wilkinson said.
Centro Seguro will primarily help children in sex trafficking situations, but also provide shelter for children in the CPS system.
"It is a very short term placement so that kids in foster care are not staying in CPS offices," he said.
Centro Seguro will open its doors in October 2017.