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Stop Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is here in Lake County - and it is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.

Local girls and young women have been targeted, and continue to be at risk.

Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, and can be defined as “the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.”

The most common type of trafficking is sex trafficking, followed by domestic work and agriculture.

In 2016, the National Human Trafficking Hotline found that 7,500 cases were report – up 35% over 2015.

California has double the rate of any other state of reported cases.

According to the Polaris Project, a national non-profit that works to combat human trafficking, 25% of trafficking victims are children. In the US, the average age of a trafficking victim is 13 – the typical age of a 7th or 8th grader.

The two most vulnerable populations of children that may be trafficked into sexual exploitation include:

  1. Runaways: One-third of runaways are lured into sexual exploitation within 48 hours of leaving home. Approximately 90% of them end up in the commercial sex trade.
  2. Children on the fringes: These may be children from abusive homes; neglected children; latchkey children; children with parents who may be working multiple jobs with little or no time to keep track of them; or they may just be children who don’t fit in.

Traffickers maintain control through force, violence, lies, and psychological abuse.

These methods cause psychological damage, and victims grapple with shame, fear, suicidal thoughts, and an inability to trust, making it difficult for them to ask for help.

As adults, we can protect our youth.

Educate yourself on the issues and learn the signs of a trafficked victim. To learn more go to Polaris Project website.

Discuss the following items with your children or children you have influence over:

  1. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know on social media. Traffickers commonly use popular social media sites to lure their victims.
  2. Don’t reveal too much about yourself to people you don’t know, no matter how friendly the person may be.
  3. Never agree to meet someone you don’t know without first consulting a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher, and guidance counselor.

Report it if you suspect someone is being coerced into compelled labor or commercial sex acts, by calling 1-888-373-7888 or texting “BeFree” to (233-733).

Although this is a worldwide problem, it hits home locally here in Lake County. Take the time to learn more about this devastating issue, and protect our youth and our community.

Brock Falkenberg
Lake County Superintendent of Schools