Billboard campaign aimed at fighting child sex trafficking

Christina Villacorte (Los Angeles Daily News) | April 11, 2014

“Buying a teen for sex is child abuse. Turning a blind eye is neglect.”

That’s one of the messages being posted on billboards throughout Los Angeles County starting this weekend, as part of a new public-awareness campaign to combat the worsening problem of child sex trafficking in the region.

Meanwhile, at the state Capitol, the “War on Child Sex Trafficking” legislative package is continuing to move forward. If approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, penalties for those who buy and sell minors for sex would stiffen starting Jan. 1.

County Supervisor Don Knabe said Friday at a news conference announcing the campaign in downtown Los Angeles that he hopes to change the public perception of children and teenagers getting involved in prostitution or pornography by choice.

“No child grows up wanting to be bought and sold for sex in the streets of their community,” Knabe said. “They are victims, often forced into this life by brutal violence and threats.

“The true criminals are the scumbags that buy and sell young boys and girls for money and get off with a slap on the wrist.”

On Friday, the county partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Clear Channel Outdoor to launch billboards and digital displays at trains and train stations, buses and bus stops.

The ads show a child’s bed, complete with teddy bears, and the words, “Teens sold for sex aren’t prostitutes. They’re rape victims.” A second version says, “Being a prostituted teen isn’t a choice. It’s slavery.”

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Image source: Senate Majority Caucus

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