The District Attorney’s Office announced the launch of an aggressive campaign aimed at combating human and sex trafficking in San Diego County on Monday.
The campaign is called The Ugly Truth.
According to the FBI, San Diego is classified as a high-intensity child prostitution area, and is one of the top 13 cities in the U.S where kids are sold for sex.
The “Innovative public-awareness campaign,” as described by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, is meant to help people understand the truth about San Diego County’s ever growing sex trafficking problem. Its ultimate goal is to get leaders in Sacramento to prioritize the issue and increase penalties for pimping and prostitution.
The campaign will feature provocative ads and billboards, in Spanish and English, strategically placed in high-traffic areas around the county, including Comic-Con and the MLB All-Star Game.
The theme of the bold, purple ads is centered on debunking myths and common misconceptions about prostitution and the sex trafficking industry. In fact, the ads echo the voices of former human trafficking survivors who were asked for input.
“Here in San Diego, we are fighting back with relentless law enforcement and prosecution,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan said. “But we need all of our community to join us in this fight for the safety and dignity of our children.”
According to a recent study by the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego's sex trafficking industry can impact about 3,000 to 8,000 victims, mostly women and young girls, every year. The average age of those victims is 16 years old.
According to the District Attorney's Office, a trafficker controlling about four victims makes an average yearly income over $670,000.
The campaign, which runs until the end of September, is funded by the San Diego County District Attorney's Office and San Diego County's Child Welfare Services.
Victims in need of help and people interested in more information about the camaign can go here.