San Diego University Raising Money To Help Human Trafficking Survivors Get A College Education
Sex trafficking is like modern slavery and in San Diego, children are caught up in commercial sexual exploitation. According to the FBI, San Diego has one of the highest rates of child prostitution in the country.
Preventing vulnerable children from getting snared in the net is one worthy goal. But helping them get out of it, and get back on their feet, may be even more difficult. One vital component of helping victims get out of the life of prostitution is education.
Point Loma Nazarene University's Center for Justice and Reconciliation is raising a first-of-its-kind $40,000 college scholarship for survivors of human trafficking. It's just one way the university is trying to abolish the sex-trade industry.
Jamie Gates is a sociology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University who directs the university's Center for Justice and Reconciliation. He said social service providers who work with victims of human trafficking and the survivors have told him the the number one thing that schools like Point Loma Nazarene University can do for survivors is to help them get an education.
Social work practitioner Charisma De Los Reyes works with human trafficking victims in San Diego. She said girls here are often recruited between the ages of 12 and 14 and boys ages 11 to 13 years old.
"It's children who are very vulnerable in terms of a lack of social and family support," De Los Reyes said.
She said youth who are able to get out of the life want to go to college, but for a lot of survivors no one has ever believed in them.
"What this scholarship is really saying is someone believes in you," De Los Reyes said. "There's this entire university that wants to help you [get an education]."