Fairfax launches teen sex trafficking education program

Fairfax County officials launched a public awareness campaign Friday to educate young people about the growing problem of teen sex trafficking in Northern Virginia.

The “Just Ask” Prevention Project is a joint initiative by the police, schools and domestic violence counselors. It includes videos that will be shown in schools, posters, a plastic support bracelet and a Web site (justaskVA.org) that aims to raise awareness about a crime the FBI says is the second fastest growing in the United States. The program teaches parents, teachers and teens how to recognize the signs of teen sex trafficking.

Since 2011, police say they have arrested and prosecuted more than 25 traffickers in the eastern half of Virginia who recruited and forced dozens of victims to engage in prostitution. The cases include a violent gang that lured girls into a prostitution ring via social media and approached them on the street and Metro.

Local, state and federal officials have made teen sex trafficking a major law enforcement priority. Late last year, a Northern Virginia task force got a $1 million grant to combat the problem.

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