San Diego Heightens Focus on Fighting Human Trafficking

In 2003, the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Unit identified San Diego as one of 13 cities deemed a high intensity child prostitution area.

“Human trafficking is really the largest human rights violation that is occurring this century,” said Summer Stephan, the chief deputy in charge of sex crimes and human trafficking for San Diego’s district attorney’s office. The number of human trafficking cases prosecuted in San Diego County has more than tripled in recent years, going from nine cases in 2009 to 46 in 2013.

Since the FBI’s report, law enforcement, prosecutors, and service providers throughout the county have collaborated to prevent and combat human trafficking locally. The heightened focus has ignited educational outreach efforts. In recognition of the high number of juvenile human trafficking victims, school districts are being encouraged to educate their staff and students about sexual exploitation.

Autumn Burris, a survivor of sexual exploitation, founded the nonprofit Survivors for Solutions to advocate for survivors of sexual exploitation to lead educational and public policy efforts to fight human trafficking. She explained that human trafficking ties in with other social issues already addressed in schools, including cyber safety and healthy relationships. “We have to stop pretending (human trafficking) doesn’t happen in our own backyard,” she said. “The choices here are you are either going to learn about human trafficking from a prevention program or you are going to learn about it from a trafficker.”

Learn more at Rachel Stine’s The Coast News article: Heightened Focus, Outreach Efforts Place on Human Trafficking.

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