Lately it seems that more and more attention is being placed on human trafficking, but does it really exist here in California and are our adolescents at risk? The US Department of Justice’s Characteristics of Suspected Incidents of Human Trafficking, 2008-2010, reported alarming statistics – ones that reach very close to home. More than 2,500 cases were opened during this period, and 82% of them were classified as sex trafficking. Nearly half (49.2%) of the sex trafficking cases involved prostitution or sexual exploitation of a child… that’s right… a child. And children in California may face a larger risk.
California is not just a top destination for vacationers, but it’s also a top destination for human traffickers. Our prime real estate offers an extensive international border, major harbors and airports, a historically powerful economy, an increasing population, and large industries. Although state statistics on sex trafficking are vague, the Dream Center reports that five Task forces identified 559 potential victims between December 2005 and March 2007. While this number might seem low, it will be used as a baseline as the attention to human sex trafficking is increasing – statewide and country-wide.
In the US, the Department of Justice estimates that nearly 300,000 children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry, with girls as young as five and six that are forced to do sexual acts for economic gain by their pimps.
Some Red Flag Indicators:
- Living with employer
- Poor living conditions
- Multiple people in cramped spaces
- Inability to speak to an individual alone
- Signs of physical abuse
- Under 18 and in prostitution
- Heavy security (barred windows, locked doors, isolated location, etc.)
- Human Trafficking.org
- National Human Trafficking Resource Center
- Captive Daughters
- Stop Child Trafficking Now
- California Coalition Against Sexual Assault
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