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SAN DIEGO — Researchers from the University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University have found an average of 10,000 girls a year are involved in the sex trafficking industry in San Diego.

They also discovered that many of them are underage and recruited at high schools around the county.

“The average age that enters into commercial sexual exploitation is between 14 and 15 years old, this is not an East County problem, not just a City Heights problem, a Southeast San Diego problem, a Del Mar problem, a La Jolla problem, it’s all over the county,” said Dr. Ami Carpenter, a professor at USD’s Joan Kroc School of Peace and Justice.

The study, which has been underway for three years, says 110 gangs in San Diego are involved in prostituting these young women. And that they look for girls with low self-esteem issues who might be in foster care or homeless without father figures in their lives.

The study found that contrary to popular belief, most of the girls involved in sex trafficking are from the U.S. and not from foreign countries.

San Diego reportedly has this problem because of its proximity to the border, a large military population and number of visitors who come here for conventions.