Learning about Human Trafficking in San Diego

Stephany Mejia, News Editor

The Student Health and Counseling Services hosted a “Stop Human Trafficking” event on April 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Markstein 106.


The Sexual Violence Advocate and educator, Christa Wencl, introduced the guest speaker, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Fanny Yu.


Yu spoke about the signs of a victim of human trafficking. If a person has cigarette burn marks, bruises or tattoos such as a barcode, they could be a victim. Victims might start having multiple cell phones and clothing which has been bought by their recruiter.


Many of the recruiting hotspots are trolley stations, bus stops, house parties, social media and neighborhood parks near schools, Yu said. There are also girl recruiters who lure middle school girls to attend high school parties.


Recruiters know how to select their victims, Yu said. They usually choose girls who have low self-esteem or girls who have been in the foster care system. The victims are usually 16-year-olds in San Diego County.


Some steps of exploitations are seduction through false promises, isolation from family and friends, coercion into prostitution and violence to retain control.


Yu said some of the victims do not consider themselves victims. When authorities find a victim, she is sent to a different county of a different state far away from the recruiters so they won’t be found.


The program Surviving Together, Achieving and Reaching for Success (STARS) is a program for 13 to 24-year-old girls who are victims of sexual exploitation or domestic trafficking. Phone number for STARS is (619)521-2250. STARS is hiring volunteers.


Resources are available for victims. The Child Abuse Hotline (800)344-600 is available 24/7 and is staffed by trained social workers. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (800) 843-5678.

Yu can be contacted at (858) 694-4250 or [email protected].