Educating Virginia Teens About Sex Trafficking

Teen sex trafficking is on the rise in Northern Virginia. Fairfax County Police, public schools, and the Office for Women and Domestic and Sexual Violence Services have launched Just Ask – a prevention campaign aimed at educating teens about the danger of being caught up in sex trafficking, which is defined as “the act of manipulating or forcing anyone under the age of 18 to engage in a sex act in exchange for anything of value (money, drugs, shelter, food, clothes, etc.).”

In Northern Virginia teens are being targeted at bus stops, walking down the street, parties, shopping malls, and through social media. Sex traffickers do not discriminate; they recruit victims across ethnic, economic, and gender strata. Most teens are unaware they are being drawn in and often don’t recognize the signs of manipulation until it is too late. Traffickers are not just gang members or “criminals.” They can be business professionals, family members, and classmates.

The “Just Ask” campaign also aims to encourage people to learn more how to spot and report manipulative recruiters. The campaign includes age-appropriate videos that will be incorporated into the Fairfax County Public School curriculum, a website, a Just Ask Facebook page, posters, and plastic bracelets.

Learn more at Ellie Ashford’s Annandale VA article: Education campaign aimed at keeping teens away from sex trafficking.

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