CARLSBAD, Calif., April 5, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- i-SAFE, a leader in providing Internet safety education and information, today announced the launch of its "Twelve" initiative, a national effort to combat underage sex trafficking in the United States. With over 100,000 underage sex trafficking victims in the United States alone, i-SAFE's objective is to empower teens so they don't fall into the traps set by sex traffickers.
A powerful component of i-SAFE's Twelve initiative is the creation of a documentary titled "12." This film will tell the story of "Tiffany," a 12-year-old girl who was lured into the sex trafficking industry in 2006 and then bought and sold multiple times over the next five years.
"Tiffany's story is tragic, but the most heartbreaking part of her journey is how common sex trafficking occurs. Through our efforts, we need to give teens the information and resources to avoid Tiffany's path," said Teri Schroeder, CEO, i-SAFE, Inc. "Our goal is nothing short of ending the practice of underage sex trafficking in the United States. We owe that to Tiffany and all the other teens who have been exploited and abused."
By telling Tiffany's story, the documentary, which is seeking financial support through a kickstarter campaign, will raise awareness and help teachers identify at-risk teens and provide resources for students on how to rebuff approaches by sex traffickers.
While many Americans may think that sex trafficking is something that happens in other countries, it is growing in the United States:
- Between 100,000 and 300,000 underage girls are sold for sex in the United States. Minors are sold on average 10-15 times a day.
- 1 out of 3 teens on the street will be lured towards prostitution within 48 hours of running away from home.
- Child pornography is now a $3 billion a year business, with 55 percent of child porn originating in the United States. In fact, 1 in 5 pornographic images is of an underage child.
- 75 percent of underage sex trafficking victims are sold or advertised online.
One of the ugly hidden stories of major U.S. events – such as the Super Bowl or major concert or awards show – is how sex traffickers organize to provide underage teens to attendees. Sex traffickers routinely advertise these "services" via websites and apps making access to sex services convenient.
By leveraging customary online payment services, the sex trafficking market attempts to persuade customers into believing that their "offerings" online are legitimate and that their company is participating in legal business practices.
The potential number of at-risk teens is significant. According to a Vrge Analytics survey commissioned by i-SAFE, 1 in 4 people said they knew of a child running away from home. That is a chilling statistic when coupled with the fact that many runaways are approached within 48 hours to be conscripted into prostitution.
The Vrge polling of 753 Americans last month also found that Americans understand how serious sex trafficking is – and want government and tech companies to do more to combat it. According to the survey, 78 percent called it "very important" to combat underage sex trafficking with an all-out national effort that includes tougher laws, a public awareness campaign in schools, ads on TV and the Internet, and public officials speaking out on it.
Sixty-two percent agreed that government and the tech industry should do more, including tougher laws and more monitoring by these companies.
Combatting sex trafficking has been a priority for i-SAFE for over a decade. i-SAFE has worked with national groups and federal and state law enforcement to combat the rise of sex trafficking. These efforts have demonstrated that it's critical that a strong public awareness campaign is launched to take the issue out of the shadows.
"For many victims, they feel alone because they never hear of others who were also forced to endure sex slavery," said i-SAFE's Teri Schroeder. "As a society we must have the courage to address this issue head-on and openly discuss it. Only then can we learn the scope of the problem and raise the awareness needed to ensure that the next generation of children doesn't fall victim to the same traps and tricks."
i-SAFE Inc. is a non-profit foundation whose mission is to educate and empower youth to safely and responsibly take control of their Internet experiences. Founded in 1998, i-SAFE Inc. is active in all 50 states providing teachers, government agencies and law enforcement digital programming focused on e-safety education.
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