We need to confront the severity of sex trafficking in Orange County

Each year, hundreds of people will continue to lose their security if we do not inform ourselves and aid those who fall victim to sex trafficking.

We+need+to+confront+the+severity+of+sex+trafficking+in+Orange+County

Photo by Tim Tebow Foundation on Unsplash

Jayne Bickford, Staff Writer

Beneath its lush palm trees and merciless sun, Southern California hides the blemish of sex trafficking as effortlessly as a girl covers a stain on her blouse. The presence of sex trafficking is the elephant in the room for this region and it often goes unnoticed.

MASS PREVENTION ATTEMPTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, mass sharing has allowed certain sex trafficking operations to be exposed. In October, one Twitter user shared a post warning visitors about Mainplace Mall in Santa Ana and its “excessive amount” of trafficking incidents.

Of course, not everyone has access to these platforms and the rising number of victims going missing every year attests to that. In comparison to last year’s rates, the National Human Trafficking Hotline recieved 40% more calls during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a time when unemployment is higher than ever before and the economy is plummeting exponentially, traffickers have been given more opportunities to prey on the vulnerable. Since the start of the pandemic, financial hardships have forced many to move out of their homes, causing many former victims to return to their perpetrators due to a loss of security and shelter.

Education is the first step to making Orange County safer for men and women. We need to prioritize the implementation of sex trafficking awareness courses and training in schools and places of work. We need to do whatever we can to ensure that all people are more confident in knowing what situations are dangerous and who may be already affected.

LACK OF EDUCATION PUTS VULNERABLE AT RISK

For years, the issue of sex trafficking has been glossed over by Southern California residents as something too disturbing to bring up in conversation. This is where residents fail in the area of community intervention. For intervention to start, conversation has to begin. 

According to the Orange County Human Trafficking Victim Report, sex traffickers bring their victims to Orange County because they can sell sex acts at extremely high rates due to the wealth of the county.

It is not usually immediately obvious that someone is a victim of sex trafficking, and often their situation remains hidden in plain sight. Many experiencing this exploitation live with an abusive family member or have relations with someone who controls their movements.

It is important for the youth and the most vulnerable to be familiar with the signs of danger. While the streets are a dangerous place for the vulnerable to be, the internet can also be a dark trap for many that enter it. Traffickers often utilize platforms such as Facebook by sending friend requests to multiple students from one school and build legitimacy from gaining these mutual connections between the students.  

In order to make Orange County safer, teaching sex trafficking awareness in schools must be a priority. If the conversation of sex trafficking is taken seriously in education and at home, then we might just see a change. There are many that fall victim to sex trafficking every year, and many are targeted due to unstable living conditions, poverty levels and immigration status.

COMMUNITIES ARE COMING TOGETHER AND EFFORTS ARE BEING MADE

Although sex trafficking prevention is a primary concern, the aiding of those involved and formerly involved is the first step in helping the afflicted. Redeeming Love is a faith-based organization that offers care to victims of sex trafficking to get them back on their feet. The organization also offers volunteer opportunities in hopes to raise sex trafficking awareness and contribute to their efforts. In the past 16 years, the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force has helped over 1,037 victims in emergency relief, housing and self-sufficiency. 

Community outreach is not limited to those involved in organizations. Biola students have opportunities to assist in the fight through the Breaking Chains club, which works to spread awareness of human trafficking. 

Multiple organizations have proven to make an immense difference in the perception and prevention of sex trafficking in Orange County. However, community involvement must not stop there and we must not get comfortable with how far the county has come. 

4 4 votes
Article Rating