Society has safeguards for runaway or homeless children to be in community care facilities. We saw a version of this with the Oliver Twist dial turned up to 50 in the beginning of Solo. Lady Proxima, the Grindalid matriarch of the White Worms, had a business model of taking in young Corellian children and giving them food and shelter in exchange for committing crimes. This was one of those rare fusions of Boys Town meets The Godfather.
California defines an abandoned child as an individual under 18 years old who is without provision, supervision, or necessary care. Cal. Fam. Code § 3402. Han and Qi’ra both were under 18 years of age when they were introduced in Solo. They technically were either abandoned or runaways when Proxima took them in under her care. Lady Proxima effectively ran a home for runaway or homeless children, which would need to meet the following requirements:
- Provide short-term nonmedical care not exceeding 21 days for youth who voluntarily enter the shelter;
- Have a maximum capacity of 25 youth;
- Have a ratio of one staff person for every 8 youth;
- Can use bunk beds limited to two tiers;
- Operated by a non-profit;
- Staff will assist youth in obtaining emergency health-related services;
- Reconnect youth with family when possible; and
- Work with local government for placing in foster care
Cal. Health & Safety Code § 1502.35.
The White Worms complied with none of the basic requirements for a runaway or homeless youth shelter. First, youth were there for years, which is in excess of 21 days. There clearly were more than 25 youth at the “facility.” While the ratio of youth to staff might have been at the right ratio, this was to quill uprisings of children who wanted food, not for childcare. Sleeping accommodations were not in compliance with the law. Moreover, the White Worms were not operating a non-profit, but a criminal enterprise using the children as its agents in a crime for food program.
Lady Proxima and her gang could be prosecuted for a long list of crimes, ranging from racketeering to health code violations. Proxima could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors crime for using children in a criminal enterprise. Anyone who encourages a person under 18 years old to commit a crime (thus be subject to juvenile court) is guilty of a misdemeanor and can be punished by up to one year in county jail, fined $2,500, or both. Furthermore, anyone who lures a child under 14 away from home is also guilty of a misdemeanor. Cal. Penal Code § 272. If Proxima was charged for each youth she induced to commit crimes or lured away from home, she could be go to jail for decades.
There is a larger issue with Lady Proxima: child neglect. “Neglect” is the maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for the child’s welfare under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child’s health or welfare. Cal. Penal Code § 11165.2. The children under Proxima’s “care” had to steal for food, fight off other children in order to get food, and were in living conditions that would cause Child Protective Services to scramble a squadron of X-Wings.
Each member of the White Worms could be charged with child abuse, which is the willful harming of a child. Cal. Penal Code § 11165.3 Rebolt enforced Lady Proxima’s will with corporal punishment against Han for failing in a criminal act for Proxima. Moloch pulled a blast on Solo when he resisted the abuse, followed by a high speed chase, blaster fire, and releasing Corellian hounds in pursuit of Han and Qi’ra. All of these actions would be extreme child abuse.
Han and Qi’ra were right to escape the White Worms. There is no credible argument that Lady Proxima had a licensed home for runaway or abandoned children. Unfortunately for those who had to steal for food, the Empire clearly did not care about the well being of children. For a society that had traded freedom for a secure “Empire,” this is not a surprising end result.