A Los Angeles Regional Human Trafficking Task Force cracked down this week on pimps and others trying to lure kids into prostitution and porn.
The task force has made more than 200 arrests and rescued more than 100 children since the program began last November, officials said.
Girls as young as 12 are being lured into prostitution by pimps they meet on social media or dating websites, authorities say.
Detectives go on social media sites and pretend to be children, setting up sting operations to bust predators.
"Much of this starts with friendship, but is very, very well planned out," said Sheriff's Capt. Merrill Ladenheim. "They're truly predators. They can spot vulnerable young people."
Children are no longer charged with prostitution in Los Angeles County, so the task force is encouraging victims to come forward and report their traffickers.
"Many of them have been manipulated, psychologically brainwashed," Ladenheim said. "Many of them suffer from trauma bonds because of their traffickers."
Some 70 percent of trafficked children in Los Angeles come from foster care or group homes, although anyone's child could become a victim, authorities said.
Investigators have the following advice for young people and their parents:
- Keep kids' computers in public and not in private bedrooms;
- Know your kids' internet passwords;
- Keep an eye on your children's social media activity;
- Know that predators can use risqué photos online as extortion.