Mike Ryan, Director, Orange County Social Services Agency
In 2014, Senate Bill (SB) 855 established a state-funded county program to serve the needs of a specific subset of human trafficking victims: children. This bill changed California’s Welfare and Institutions Code Section 300, subdivision (b)(2) and clarified that children who are victims of sex trafficking and exploitation fall under the jurisdiction of the child welfare system. SB 855 also assisted counties in developing multidisciplinary protocols and systems for responding to the needs of these vulnerable youth, now classified as “commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC).”
Child sex trafficking or the commercial sexual exploitation of children refers to a range of crimes and activities involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a child for the financial benefit of any person or in exchange for anything of value (including monetary and non-monetary benefits) given or received by any person. Examples of crimes and acts that constitute CSEC include: recruitment, harboring, transporting, obtaining, or advertising of a child for the purpose of a commercial sex act; child sex tourism involving commercial sexual activity; the commercial production of child pornography; and the online transmission of live video of a child engaged in sexual activity in exchange for anything of value.
Shortly after SB 855 was passed, Orange County established the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Steering Committee and is implementing their CSEC County Plan, with a key deliverable of raising awareness in the community of the risks and indicators of child sex trafficking and exploitation.
The commercial sexual exploitation of children is a national and statewide epidemic that deserves our highest attention.
In support of this key deliverable, the County of Orange, in partnership with the CSEC Steering Committee, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), the Association of California Cities-Orange County, the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women & Justice, Orange County Juvenile Court, and The Raise Foundation, is launching a campaign to raise awareness of child sex trafficking and exploitation, highlighting the theme: “Be the One to Help Out: Sex Trafficking. It’s Not What You Think. Children are Victims, Too.”
The new public awareness campaign will feature three (3) new bus tail designs, to be placed on ten (10) OCTA ACCESS buses that will be in service throughout Orange County. Additionally, the campaign features a new website, www.betheoneoc.com, which provides the community with information and resources to help identify and prevent the commercial exploitation of children.
Materials continue to be developed in order to be distributed throughout the community. If you or your organization would like copies of the “Be the One” materials to distribute to your members and constituents, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Enhanced awareness will enable us to identify victims more quickly, with the ultimate goal of preventing the sex trafficking of children.