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Teen Sex Trafficking (Fairfax County Virginia)
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The Super Bowl is just around the corner, and this means there is going to be a spotlight on the sex trafficking problem in Southern California. It happened last year in Florida also. This negative spotlight is the one downside of hosting the Super Bowl and often creates a misconception that sex trafficking is only happening in that area or only during the big game. Reality is much different. Sex trafficking is running rampant around the country 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The number of victims is nearly impossible to measure effectively, but we do know that the internet has allowed this crime to grow rapidly. There are an estimated 150,000 new escort ads posted DAILY on the surface web with 75% of victims reporting being sold online after 2004 (source). While not every escort ad is for someone that is being trafficked, this is the mechanism traffickers use to advertise their victims in plain sight. This process can be as simple as purchasing something off Amazon. Shining the spotlight on these victims for one day out of the year does a huge disservice to the fight to end this form of slavery. It is vital that this misconception is challenged, and we realize that many victims are trafficked long before kickoff and will be long after the final whistle blows. What makes the Super Bowl attractive to traffickers? The Super Bowl being one of the largest annual American events makes it an excellent scapegoat for highlighting this crime, however, the Super Bowl is not alone in its attractiveness. Any event that creates a situation in which a great number of people are congregated in one one geographical location draws attention from traffickers. Events as little as the county fair and local golf tournament to those as big as a sold-out stadium concert and March Madness attract this form of crime. Remember traffickers need to find those willing to buy sex to be successful. A greater population of people makes the job of connecting with buyers easier. Some traffickers travel great distances to capitalize on events. The Super Bowl is just another example of this occurrence.
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