SAN ANTONIO — A new education campaign is underway in San Antonio. It aims to educate the city about the risks and the reality of child sex trafficking and exploitation.
It's called No Child Sold.
As experts told KENS 5, this heinous crime is happening in more zip codes than you'd think.
"We're calling it what it is. We want people to know children are being sold in San Antonio," said April Molina, Director of Communications for Ransomed Life.
No Child Sold is educating people about how prevalent child trafficking is in our city, and how we can recognize and report it.
"In many cases, these victims are dependent on witnesses, innocent bystanders, teachers, other parents, neighbors to recognize that something is just not right," Molina explained.
Ransomed Life is one of the leading experts in sex trafficking awareness in the city. The organization has counselors and mentors who help survivors heal. They also team up with law enforcement to teach at local churches and schools about this crime.
"This is a really dark road that we wouldn't want any child to go on," said Molina. "Three times in the last three months when I've been observing a presentation, there's been an outcry by a child at that school."
One of the biggest misconceptions about child sex trafficking is that it only happens in a certain area of town.
To prove that's not the case, Ransomed Life released a new map.
Each heart represents one or more children who were exploited for sex or child pornography in that zip code. They're in every corner of the city. *Note: For the safety and privacy of the children, the hearts do not represent the child's exact location.
"This is a zip code that they're from and these are the kids that we have served at Ransomed Life through mentoring and counseling over the last three years," said Molina.
To help prevent more children from falling victim to sex trafficking, Ransomed Life shares lists of red flags.
If you notice any of these signs in a child's life, you are urged to report it to police. Even if you aren't 100% sure that it's linked to sex trafficking or exploitation, experts recommend you still report it. From there, police can do a thorough investigation to determine whether a crime is happening or not.
Experts stress that it's critical every child has a trusted adult. That way, if the child is experiencing any situation with a person trying to lure them, they can share that information.
"You hope it's your parents, but that's not always the case. You want your child to have a trusted adult. If they don't, maybe it's their friend or their friend's parent," said Molina.
If you'd like to have a Ransomed Life speaker at your child's school, your church or any event, you can request one here.
Ransomed Life also takes referrals. To learn more, click here.
"We know that a lot of these kids have suffered broken relationships," said Molina. "So the mentoring process is important because they're mirroring a healthy relationships for these kids."