North County

Company Uses Virtual Reality to Teach Students Signs of Sex Trafficking

A new interactive learning experience will be utilized in Oceanside

If sex trafficking was happening in front of you, would you know it? Many experts say the signs can be subtle. 

"They can be simple, like you might see a friend getting a lot of gifts or they might have an older boyfriend," said Billy Joe Cain, President of the Radical Empathy Education Foundation. 

His non-profit uses virtual reality headsets to teach students signs to look out for. 

Cain was at SIATech Charter High School in Oceanside Thursday, showing school administrators the technology. 

"I think students are going to be shocked," said Principal Greg Cohen. "I think they won't know this is happening in their communities, let alone all of our communities." 

The VR app puts students into the perspective of a sex trafficking victim. Slang terms that traffickers and victims use are incorporated. 

Cain said VR gives students more empathy for sex trafficking victims by literally putting them in their shoes. 

"The people that think sex trafficking is not happening in their neighborhoods are unfortunately incorrect," said Cain. 

The hope is that once students know the signs of sex trafficking, they'll report it to a teacher, police officer, nurse, doctor, teacher or other trusted source. 

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