Sex trafficking is a growing epidemic

In such a developed country as the United States, human trafficking shouldn’t be as big of a problem as it is. But the U.S. is known to be one of the most prevalent countries for forced sex labor, and California sits atop the list with the highest demand in this industry.

Sex trafficking isn’t something that happens in some faraway place or in more dangerous regions of the country. It can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone.

Just a few months ago, a 13-year-old girl was walking home from Pine Valley Middle School when she saw a car following her. The guy in the car told her to get in. Luckily, someone was there to help her get away. 

Not everyone is as lucky.

There are an estimated 250,000 new victims of human trafficking under 18 years of age every year, according to the Ark of Hope for Children, a human rights organization focused on child trafficking. And this number has been on the rise. 

Despite this, the panic over sex trafficking has been left on the back burner, especially here.

San Ramon is deemed as safe, but anything can happen anywhere when it comes to human-trafficking. In addition to the 13-year old girl, the district reported to parents two similar incidents involving girls near Dougherty Valley High School.

In 2018, a Danville couple was found guilty of running a prostitution ring in Contra Costa County. The couple was baiting young women with false modeling and make-up artist contracts, forcing them into prostitution.

It should never be assumed that young adults and children are not being  targeted. Students of all ages should be educated on the dangers of kidnappers and traffickers, at least beyond the ‘stranger danger’ level taught by parents. The issue of minors being kidnapped for forced sex or labor is a major problem.

 Social media has contributed to the steady increase of this problem. With youth so addicted to social media, it makes it much easier for human traffickers to hunt for younger victims. 

The U.S. Department of Education does encourage schools to raise awareness about human trafficking, but it is not an issue schools are required to address. 

So what should public schools be doing in the context of sex trafficking? By high school, students should be taught to detect if they or  their peers are being catfished or manipulated over social media. 

Sex trafficking is the modern slavery that children, teenagers, young adults, and parents should be fully aware of. It’s horrifying to know that the demand for younger and younger children in the multi-million dollar industry is increasing.