- Associated Press - Saturday, January 18, 2014

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - Many people think teen sex trafficking happens somewhere else.

But it’s on the rise in northern Virginia. Fairfax County police say on average two new potential victims are identified each week.

To fight back, the community is being armed through a new awareness campaign. You need to be able to recognize trafficking in order to report it and that’s where the public awareness campaign comes in. It’s called the “Just Ask” Prevention Project and includes a new interactive website to help in the battle.

Detective Bill Woolf says sadly he’s not hurting for cases. He’s with the human trafficking unit of the Fairfax County Police Department.

He says, “When you look into the eyes of these victims, when you recover them from the situations they’re forced to endure, that you see the pain, the hurt.”

He says the best way to fight this heinous crime of our children is awareness.

Besides an interactive website, the campaign includes a 10-minute film on sex trafficking to be shown to all sixth through 12th graders in Fairfax County public schools, and as you’ll be seeing posters on backs of buses, at schools and at other locations.

“Traffickers count on the community not doing something about it,” says Bradley Miles. He’s with the Polaris Project and is an expert in the fight against sex trafficking.

January is sex trafficking awareness month.

Many think that sex trafficking mainly happens to runaways and people from other countries, but it is also happening to teenagers in northern Virginia.

The hope is the website and the awareness campaign will inspire residents to get involved in prevention by learning how to spot and identify potential victims and to report them.

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http://justaskva.org

http://www.polarisproject.org

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