DR. LOIS LEE, CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT
Dr. Lois Lee is the world’s leading expert in rescuing child sex trafficking victims. As founder and president of Children of the Night — the only comprehensive program in North America devoted to saving children forced into prostitution — she has blazed a trail for social service providers, law enforcement, legislators and researchers across the globe.
Since 1979, Lee has rescued more than 10,000 children from prostitution in the United States — more than all other sex trafficking programs combined. The pioneering nonprofit organization, funded solely by private donations, offers these children the specialized treatment and education they need to escape the streets and go on to lead fulfilling, productive lives.
As a PhD student in sociology in 1975, Lee discovered growing numbers of “throwaway” children on the streets of Hollywood prostituting themselves for food and shelter. When she realized that these desperate youngsters, most from abusive homes, were “falling through the cracks” of the social service system with nowhere to turn, she made it her mission to help, eventually opening her home to them. Over the next three years, more than 250 children passed through her apartment.
Lee wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on “The Pimp and His Game,”
conducting the first ever U.S. study of the social world of street prostitution. It is still relied upon today by vice officers, district attorneys, the FBI and U.S. attorneys as a guide for the treatment of child prostitutes.
As she researched thousands of police reports filed against prostitutes and pursued court challenges, Lee got tips about missing prostitutes. When she tried to report this information to the police, she was told they had no interest in looking for missing “whores.”
In 1979, police identified the body of a 17-year-old girl who had been tortured, strangled and dumped on a hillside. She turned out to be the Hillside Strangler’s 11th victim. Lee announced to the media, “If you are in the prostitution business and you think you know who the Hillside Strangler is and don’t want to call the police, call me,” and released her home telephone number on national news.
Lee considered these children victims of sexual exploitation, not criminals — a stance unheard of at the time. As a result of her efforts, police now treat America’s child prostitutes as victims instead of criminals, and juvenile courts divert them to shelters, foster homes and treatment programs rather than detention.
A grant from the Playboy Foundation in 1979 enabled Lee to establish a Children of the Night telephone hotline. Soon after, she created the first Hollywood street outreach program, and later, its first walk-in crisis center, which became a model for similar programs all over the country.
In 1992, Lee opened the Children of the Night home, which accommodates residents from all over the U.S. ranging in age from 11 to 17. It provides shelter, an accredited on-site school, individual case management, recreational outings, and a nurturing environment where they can experience the childhood they never had, free from sexual exploitation. There’s also a 24-hour nationwide toll-free hotline to help children still on the streets.
In the last three decades, Lee has raised more than $40 million to provide these crucial, life-changing services to child victims of sex trafficking. The Children of the Night on-site school sends five students to college each year, and graduates have gone on to become lawyers, executives and educators and pursued other professional careers.
Lee has received countless awards for her groundbreaking work, most notably the prestigious President’s Volunteer Action Award, presented to her by President Ronald Reagan at the White House in 1984. She also received the 1994 National Caring Award, and her portrait hangs in the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans in Washington, D.C. In addition, she has been profiled on CBS’ 60 Minutes, and her life was depicted in the 1985 TV movie Children of the Night.
The sociologist — who in 1996 became a member of the California Bar Association in order to pursue legal avenues to help child prostitutes — continues to lead the field in treating child victims of sex trafficking. Government leaders and social service providers come from all over the world to observe her trail-blazing work and visit the Children of the Night home — which is a model for similar programs in the U.S. and abroad.
Japan, Romania, Mexico and Canada have sponsored her to assist in developing similar programs and to teach law enforcement in those countries how to intervene in the lives of child sex trafficking victims.
Christian organizations worldwide come to Lee for help setting up similar shelter homes, and she guides them in developing case management, staffing, educational programs and fundraising. Most important, she assists them with the grueling task of obtaining licensing from their governments, which are sometimes resistant to this kind of charitable work.
Lee is also a member of Interpol’s prestigious Global Human Trafficking Task Force, for which she is also a speaker. Her participation in this capacity led her to expand Children of the Night globally.
In 2011, Lee created WOW — Children of the Night With Out Walls — to take Children of the Night’s educational services back to the streets where Children of the Night was born.
WOW is a LIVE, ONLINE TUTORING program for children and young people who have been sexually exploited and lack opportunities to escape sexual exploitation.
WOW tutors Worldwide, including the U.S. Tutors work in a call center within the Children of the Night home and can be available 24/7 to tutor in any language.
International tutoring is provided by a tutor from the same country as the student, someone who understands the culture and challenges of living in a developing country.
Children of the Night’s global expansion will rescue 10,000 more children from sex trafficking/prostitution by tutoring them in orphanages and other homes where some of the most exploited children seek refuge.
So far, international tutoring is provided in the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Ghana, and there are plans to expand into India in 2018.
Lee has partnered with the Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of Psychology to serve on dissertation committees analyzing educational and psychological assessments of Children of the Night residents.
Her work will be placed with Fuller’s School of Psychology to develop a training site for professionals who want to learn about interventions and solutions to problems resulting from child sex trafficking.
Decades of films, news, talk shows and print media on Children of the Night and Lee’s work are currently being archived for permanent placement in museums and other sites.
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT 2018 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
JANET C. JONES
VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD
PATTI MASSMAN NEUWIRTH
DAVID L. BOYD, CHANCELLOR
THE TAFT UNIVERSITY SYSTEM
TRUSTEE, ORANGE COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION
FRANCIS SHELLEY, CPA
ALVAREZ & SHELLEY
DR. ROBERT M. CHRISTIE, PROFESSOR EMERITUS
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY
DR. LOIS LEE, FOUNDER
CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT
KEY STAFF PROFILES
Dr. Lois Lee
JD – Member of California State Bar
Chief Creative Officer
Maribel Becerra (2008 – Present)
Director of Case Management
BA in Sociology – UCLA
Sonia Ventura (1993 – Present)
High School Principal
BA in English Literature – UCLA
Madeline Maradiegue (2007 – Present)
Director of Online Education
MS in Educational Technology – CSU Fullerton
BA in Liberal Arts – UCLA
ANNUAL REPORTS AND FINANCIALS
BASED ON OUR 2017 AUDITED FINANCIAL STATEMENT:
91% OF OUR FUNDS WERE SPENT ON PROGRAM
5% OF OUR FUNDS WERE SPENT ON ADMINISTRATION
4% OF OUR FUNDS WERE SPENT ON FUNDRAISING