Riverside County is a high-impact community for criminal cases of sex trafficking, sextortion (black mail with a photo) and social-media exploitation cases. Most of these cases are driven by gangs and predators using social media to access, groom, recruit and exploit young people.
Often, a teen will meet a new-found love on the Internet and run off with them. Sometimes they are dating an older guy who is manipulating them into a life of commercial sex. In all cases, the result is sexual exploitation.
Few victims ever understand the impact of the decisions they are making when they start down the path of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Even fewer understand how to get out of “The life” of commercial sexual exploitation once they become victims.
January is Anti Human Trafficking Month. Opal Singleton, president and CEO of Million Kids, says that few parents and civic leaders are aware of the extensive nature these crimes and the tactics predators use to exploit innocent and vulnerable adults and teens.
MillionKids.org will be holding a one-of-a-kind Advanced Education Symposium at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at Harvest Church in Riverside. This symposium is for first responders, civic leaders, social workers, therapists, educators, faith-based leaders and concerned parents. The curriculum is designed to analyze real cases of human trafficking, sextortion, child pornography, social media exploitation and the Dark Web.
Educational materials have been assembled through thousands of hours of research conducted by Singleton, who also hosts a local radio show on AM 590 “Exploited: Crimes and Technology” and serves as the training and outreach coordinator for the Riverside County Anti Human Trafficking Task Force.
To learn more about local human trafficking or to enroll in the symposium, visit Facebook/Million Kids or www.MillionKids.org/Training.
Singleton will do a staff training at Idyllwild School on Wednesday, Jan. 24. She works with educators and law enforcement to help prevent human trafficking and her organization also helps victims get out of trafficking situations and helps survivors find resources for recovery.
She was invited by the Soroptimists International of Idyllwild and Idyllwild School PTA and worked with Principal Matt Kraemer to create a plan for educating teachers, parents and students. This training is the first step.