Posters marking National Human Trafficking Awareness Month are being placed on billboards and in bus shelters throughout the Bay Area as part of a campaign launched by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley.
The 2015 campaign directly confronts the epidemic of human trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the region and offers help to those same children.
"We aim to raise the public's awareness that children are bought and sold for sex every day in our own back yard," O'Malley said.
"Each of us must be informed about the crisis and understand how to be a part of the solution. Every exploited child must be offered a way out that is safe."
"This is a difficult topic, but it must be part of the community conversation if we are going to succeed at ending this form of modern day slavery," she added.
The billboard and bus shelter campaign is the result of a collaborative effort between the Alameda County's district attorney's office, MISSSEY, anti-trafficking consultancy Abolitionist Mom and Clear Channel Outdoor.
"Clear Channel Outdoor has a longstanding history of leveraging its unique position as a highly visible and unskippable medium to aid causes, like this public awareness campaign, that share our goal of keeping our children, families and communities safe," said Bruce Qualls, vice president of Real Estate and Government Affairs for Clear Channel Outdoor.
"Reaching and engaging people with life-saving safety messages through our digital billboards, traditional billboards and bus shelters when they are away from home is an important tool in helping prevent the next child from being taken," he added. "We believe these messages could be pivotal in rescuing victims and bringing their traffickers to justice."
Last year's campaign provided hotlines and informational web sites that saw a marked increase in activity following the posting of the billboards.
O'Malley said that with increased community awareness and anonymous tips, more victims will be identified and more children will be protected from becoming victims of exploitation.
The billboards offer a direct line to information via the newly established website www.ProtectCAKids.org/
For additional information on the campaign, sign on to the district attorney's special website: www.heat-watch.org/