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#minorsextrafficking | Sacramento County sex trafficking study shows the size of problem



More than 13,000 people have been sex trafficked in Sacramento County in recent years, according to a first-of-its-kind study that also found teens are especially at risk. Most people in the county are unaware of the scope of the problem, the study said. It revealed about 13,079 minors and adults were trafficked in Sacramento County at some point between 2015 and 2020. The study clarifies that it does not mean there are 13,000 people currently being victimized. “This is the first study that involved survivors as interviewers. This is the first study to estimate the prevalence of sex trafficking in a California community,” said a member of the Survivor Advisory Council during a Wednesday news conference. This study is also the first sex trafficking prevalence study set in the U.S. that includes adults. Sacramento State and several other groups contributed to the research of the recently released study by the nonprofit organization Community Against Sexual Harm (CASH). Several state leaders secured $1.5 million in funding from the California Department of Justice to conduct the study. The study was done using several methods including interviewing hundreds of survivors and data estimation from lists provided by nine agencies and organizations that regularly interact with victims. Sex trafficking involves the exploitation of people through force, fraud, coercion, threat and/or deception for the purposes of engaging them in commercial sex work and is a federal crime. Read the full study here.Who are the victims? The study found that the majority of those intertwined in sex trafficking goes unidentified as victims. “For every person that we’ve identified, there are likely 11 others who are not connected to services and the help they need,” said Terri Galvan, executive director for CASH. “These numbers don’t really surprise me, because the belief that we were not reaching the people who most needed help was part of the reason for this study in the first place.” Most of the people trafficked were women and the study shows they were young. The average age at the time they were exploited was 20 years old. Some of the victims were as young as 14.”It is also important to note that the length of time that victims were trafficked varies, such that some may have been trafficked for a couple days during this period and others for the entire 6-year-data collection,” the study said. Study shows how people get involved in sex traffickingMany women interviewed in the study said they started working for a “third party” involuntarily. They said their phones, licenses or other identification was taken from them and they were threatened to stay.Those targeted are often teenagers. Officials on Wednesday said some are former foster kids who have aged out of the system and have nowhere to go. Others interviewed said they were first romantically involved with their trafficker and then were emotionally manipulated. The study found that it was common for a female interviewee to have been trafficked by the father of her children, which led them to stay.A majority of women said they felt imprisoned.“And I ended up in Fresno at his house with a lot of other girls and they were walking and he said, the only way for me to go home was to make money…. I never, like, even though to even do something like that,” a woman interviewed in the study said.81.5% said they experienced physical and sexual violence. “One participant was burned with a glass pipe, and others were hit with pistols or guns. A participant recounted one such experience: ‘He cocked me in a head with a gun and I probably still have the… head damage and stuff… real bad headaches and stuff,'” the study said. Victims interviewed said they found work on the street, online, at truck stops, and at bars and casinos. Many in the community unaware of the issueOnly one out of four people in the county report some knowledge of sex trafficking, the study found. And less than a quarter of people in the community estimated that there are more than 1,000 victims in the county.”The majority of people in our county do not know that this issue exists,” said Eric Guerra, Sacramento City council member. “Over 75% of our people in our county do not know that sex trafficking and human trafficking is a prevalent issue in our county.”Officials said they were not surprised by this information.What happens next?”This report gives us a scope that really challenges us to match our response to the actual need,” Galvan said. Officials are hoping the study will help as they try to get more state funding for services for survivors and implement systems to prevent sex trafficking from happening in the first place.They recommend adopting a public health framework, and to identify sex trafficking in Sacramento County as a public health crisis. They also want to create new ways to improve victim identification and early intervention. “We needed to know the scope of the problem,” said Guerra. “We can understand and increase the capacity of our organizations to respond appropriately to the crisis. We can help victims escape their traffickers.”

More than 13,000 people have been sex trafficked in Sacramento County in recent years, according to a first-of-its-kind study that also found teens are especially at risk. Most people in the county are unaware of the scope of the problem, the study said.

It revealed about 13,079 minors and adults were trafficked in Sacramento County at some point between 2015 and 2020. The study clarifies that it does not mean there are 13,000 people currently being victimized.

“This is the first study that involved survivors as interviewers. This is the first study to estimate the prevalence of sex trafficking in a California community,” said a member of the Survivor Advisory Council during a Wednesday news conference. This study is also the first sex trafficking prevalence study set in the U.S. that includes adults.

Sacramento State and several other groups contributed to the research of the recently released study by the nonprofit organization Community Against Sexual Harm (CASH). Several state leaders secured $1.5 million in funding from the California Department of Justice to conduct the study.

The study was done using several methods including interviewing hundreds of survivors and data estimation from lists provided by nine agencies and organizations that regularly interact with victims.

Sex trafficking involves the exploitation of people through force, fraud, coercion, threat and/or deception for the purposes of engaging them in commercial sex work and is a federal crime.

Read the full study here.

Who are the victims?

The study found that the majority of those intertwined in sex trafficking goes unidentified as victims.

“For every person that we’ve identified, there are likely 11 others who are not connected to services and the help they need,” said Terri Galvan, executive director for CASH. “These numbers don’t really surprise me, because the belief that we were not reaching the people who most needed help was part of the reason for this study in the first place.”

Most of the people trafficked were women and the study shows they were young. The average age at the time they were exploited was 20 years old. Some of the victims were as young as 14.

“It is also important to note that the length of time that victims were trafficked varies, such that some may have been trafficked for a couple days during this period and others for the entire 6-year-data collection,” the study said.

Study shows how people get involved in sex trafficking

Many women interviewed in the study said they started working for a “third party” involuntarily. They said their phones, licenses or other identification was taken from them and they were threatened to stay.

Those targeted are often teenagers. Officials on Wednesday said some are former foster kids who have aged out of the system and have nowhere to go.

Others interviewed said they were first romantically involved with their trafficker and then were emotionally manipulated. The study found that it was common for a female interviewee to have been trafficked by the father of her children, which led them to stay.

A majority of women said they felt imprisoned.

“And I ended up in Fresno at his house with a lot of other girls and they were walking and he said, the only way for me to go home was to make money…. I never, like, even though to even do something like that,” a woman interviewed in the study said.

81.5% said they experienced physical and sexual violence.

“One participant was burned with a glass pipe, and others were hit with pistols or guns. A participant recounted one such experience: ‘He cocked me in a head with a gun and I probably still have the… head damage and stuff… real bad headaches and stuff,'” the study said.

Victims interviewed said they found work on the street, online, at truck stops, and at bars and casinos.

Many in the community unaware of the issue

Only one out of four people in the county report some knowledge of sex trafficking, the study found. And less than a quarter of people in the community estimated that there are more than 1,000 victims in the county.

“The majority of people in our county do not know that this issue exists,” said Eric Guerra, Sacramento City council member. “Over 75% of our people in our county do not know that sex trafficking and human trafficking is a prevalent issue in our county.”

Officials said they were not surprised by this information.

What happens next?

“This report gives us a scope that really challenges us to match our response to the actual need,” Galvan said.

Officials are hoping the study will help as they try to get more state funding for services for survivors and implement systems to prevent sex trafficking from happening in the first place.

They recommend adopting a public health framework, and to identify sex trafficking in Sacramento County as a public health crisis. They also want to create new ways to improve victim identification and early intervention.

“We needed to know the scope of the problem,” said Guerra. “We can understand and increase the capacity of our organizations to respond appropriately to the crisis. We can help victims escape their traffickers.”

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