March in Balboa Park raises awareness about human trafficking

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SAN DIEGO -- The Junior League of San Diego held a march Saturday aimed at bringing attention to human trafficking in the region.

The march began at 1 p.m. at Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street in Balboa Park. As the march made its way through the park, experts taught the crowd how to recognize the signs of a person being held as a slave and discuss other aspects of human trafficking, according to the Junior League.

"Human trafficking affects men, women and children in San Diego at a rate that shocks many residents," said Rachel Scatizzi Thompson, president of the Junior League of San Diego. "At this rally, we'll offer a glimpse into the stories of victims and empower participants with the knowledge they need to take a stand against this problem that remains hidden all too often."

The FBI lists San Diego as one of the top 13 highest sex trafficking areas in the country. Each year, thousands of people in the region are estimated to be victims of trafficking.

Officials at 90 percent of 20 San Diego high schools surveyed by researchers said sex trafficking victimization had happened at their schools, according to a 2016 Point Loma Nazarene University/University of San Diego study.

Sex trafficking is second only to drug trafficking among the largest underground economies in the region, according to the study.

Speakers at the march included District Attorney Summer Stephan, Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, attorney Jamie Quient and Joseph Travers, executive director of Saved in America.

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