SAN MARCOS, Calif. — The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office is asking for the public’s help in learning how to spot victims of human trafficking.

The D.A.’s office says they are seeing an increasing number of younger victims of human trafficking. They are urging parents and the community to know the signs.

“The fight continues because every day on our streets, on the internet, children are being recruited,” said Summer Stephan, San Diego County District Attorney.

D.A. prosecutors say sometimes the signs and traffickers are hiding in plain sight.

“It’s moms, dads, boyfriends, girlfriends, family members, siblings, classmates, friends, strangers, babysitters,” one presenter said.

According to Stephen, 80% of victims of human trafficking are American-born victims. Many are recruited online.

“Deception using the internet is the most common,” Stephen said. “Offers of modeling jobs, offers of friendship, getting gifts, doing commercials, becoming a star. Offers of just being there and being a support system, and the problem with the internet is that it’s hiding in plain view.”

Before COVID, the Human Trafficking Task Force saw many 15 to 16-year-old victims and sometimes 14-year-olds. Now, they are seeing 14 to 15-year-old victims, with many being 13 years old. 

“Things that kind of hit me,” attendee Tom Womack said. “I’m a dad. I have daughters. Thank God none of them had to experience that, but I just think the thing that’s just so sad is it’s something that’s prevalent.”

That’s why organizers are arming these parents and resident with knowledge to learn how to spot, report and help.

“Things that kind of makes the hair on your neck stand up,” Womack said. “But now you kind of know what to do if you’re in that situation.”

Organizers say San Diego is on the list of the top 13 cities for high intensity child prostitution.