(Ventura, Calif.) – June 26, 2019 – What do malls, arcades and airports all have in common? A significant increase in youth population during summertime. While children and youth are out and about, child trafficking perpetrators are actively seeking out their victims now more than ever. The Commercially Sexually Exploited Children’s (CSEC) READY (Respectfully Empowering and Defining Yourself) Program aims to safeguard our children and our community to stay alert around amplified likelihoods of exploitation this season here in Ventura County with their new campaign READY TO STOP. A recent warning from the FBI reminds parents that summer is a crucial time to be mindful of what your children are up to both online and outside: http://bit.ly/2WLNGJW
“When children are not in school with teachers, principals, school resource officers, and counselors to support and monitor activity, it is important that parents and other adults in the community remember to ensure additional supervision since an increase of potential child trafficking has been noted in Ventura County,” said Ronna Bright, READY Program Coordinator, Ventura County Children and Family Services. “
Warning signs for youth at risk of commercial sexual exploitation include:
- frequently running away from their caregiver
- having more than one cell phone
- new clothes or new electronics without any clear way of affording them,
- new tattoos or brandings that may be exploitation related, or speech/slang that is associated with exploitation
- frequently absent from home/school for no reason
- visible signs of physical or emotional abuse,
- significant others appearing noticeably older.
“Education on this topic is so important for [community members] recognizing what indicators might look like, said Nick Odenath, Special Crimes Detective, Ventura County Sheriff Office . “That’s when we can step in to say this doesn’t look right, and we can take actions to stop it.”
For more information about the READY TO STOP campaign and how you can help, visit http://fostervckids.org/ready-to-stop/
If you see something suspicious, make a report by contacting the Ventura County Child and Elder Abuse Reporting Hotline: 805-654-3200 or National Human Trafficking Hotline: (888)-373-7888
About the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and READY
Commercial sexual exploitation of children happens when an individual buys, trades or sells sexual acts with a person under the age of 18. The youth in our community are being targeted, and we are READY to STOP child trafficking in Ventura County.
The READY Program is a program within Ventura County’s Children and Family Services Agency. The READY Program provides support to social workers as they seek to identify and offer assistance to children and youth within the child welfare system who are experiencing commercial sexual exploitation or are at high risk of such. The READY Program liaisons with stakeholder agencies, non-profits, law enforcement, and other partners to build a network of response to address child trafficking.
The READY to Stop Child Trafficking in Ventura County initiative brings the issue of child trafficking to the forefront by educating local residents, youth, educators, and leaders in our communities about the dangers, signs, and resources available to stop child trafficking in our local community.