OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley launched a public awareness campaign Friday that's aimed at confronting what she described as an epidemic of human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.
O'Malley and other officials unveiled billboards and bus shelter posters that are being posted throughout Alameda County and the greater Bay Area.
The campaign is timed to coincide with National Human Trafficking Awareness Month and marks the second consecutive year that a billboard campaign seeks to raise awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the county and offer help to those children.
O'Malley said in a statement, "We aim to raise the public's awareness that children are bought and sold for sex every day in our own back yard."
She said, "Each of us must be informed about the crisis and understand how to be a part of the solution. Every exploited child must be offered a way out that is safe and immediate."
O'Malley said, "This is a difficult topic, but it must be part of the community conversation if we are going to succeed at ending this form of modern day slavery."
The billboard and bus shelter campaign is the result of a collaborative effort between the District Attorney's Office, the anti-trafficking consultancy Abolitionist Mom, Clear Channel and MISSEY, an Oakland-based group whose full name is Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth.
Bruce Qualls, Clear Channel Outdoor's vice president of real estate and government affairs, said the company "has a longstanding history of leveraging its unique position as a highly visible and unskippable medium to aid causes, like this public awareness campaign, that share our goal of keeping our children, families and communities safe."
Qualls said, "Reaching and engaging people with life-saving safety messages through our digital billboards, traditional billboards and bus shelters when they are away from home is an important tool in helping prevent the next child from being taken. We believe these messages could be pivotal in rescuing victims and bringing their traffickers to justice."
O'Malley said the billboard campaign last year prompted a good response and she hopes that with increased community awareness and anonymous tips, more victims will be identified and her office will prevent more children from becoming victims of exploitation.
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