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Andrea is 11 years old. She loves drawing and walking to the park with her friends. She’s tall for her age, and struggles to fit in with her foster siblings. She’s desperately lonely at home. She finds her escape at school but often gets distracted dreaming about what it would be like to have a loving family. Maintaining good grades has been difficult lately.

Life gets better when Andrea meets Chris at the park. He’s nice to her. He wants to hear about her feelings, her aspirations of becoming a movie makeup artist, and even the silly drama that happens between her friends. He wants to spend time with her every day. He showers her with gifts that she never thought she’d have. Andrea doesn’t feel lonely anymore.

But, then Chris asks Andrea to prove her love for him. Chris forces Andrea to engage in sexual activities with his friends and makes money off of her doing so. She doesn’t want to, but fears she’ll lose the only person who has ever cared about her. Chris traps Andrea into a life of sexual exploitation. Overcome with shame, she loses all hope of anyone else ever loving her now. She can’t even dream about escaping or having a loving family. It feels impossible.

This is human trafficking.

The horrifying truth is that this is happening right in our communities – to our children. But, there is hope.

The best and primary method of combatting human trafficking is awareness and education. That means we can all make a meaningful impact in ending human trafficking by simply using our voice.

At The Guidance Center, we’re committed to raising awareness and helping victims by partnering with other community resources like the Long Beach Human Trafficking Taskforce and Long Beach Police Department who are fighting to eliminate this horrendous violation of human rights every day.

As a mental health agency, we also provide a safe place for victims of sex trafficking to heal from trauma, and offers preventative interventions for children who may be vulnerable to trafficking through education and encouragement of healthy relationships and safe daily living.

In honor of January being National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we want to take the opportunity to encourage you to join us in the fight to end human trafficking – all year long.

Here’s how:

  • Education – Learn about the myths, facts, and resources.
  • AwarenessKnow the indicators of human trafficking so you can report it and save a child’s life.
  • Action – Report suspected human trafficking by calling 1-866-347-2423. Use your voice to raise awareness on social media. Volunteer with local organizations working to end human trafficking in your community.