KERN COUNTY, Calif. — "We have to recognize that any kid, unfortunately, could be vulnerable to exploitation or trafficking," said the Department of Human Services' Doctor Angela Look.
Dr. Look is a supervisor for Child Protective Services. She said while the month of January is dedicated to spreading awareness about human trafficking, it’s crucial to maintain those efforts year-round.
“There is no place within Kern County that is immune to the problem and so everybody needs to be aware because it is happening in their backyard," she said.
Dr. Look said signs of human trafficking never look quite the same but if there’s an adult a child doesn't seem to have a happy or healthy relationship with, trust your gut.
“When things happen that don’t look right, if you get that feeling like, 'Huh, this doesn’t seem okay,' take the next step then and actually call authorities about it," she said.
You can call law enforcement or call CPS at 631-60-11.
Dr. Look said parents and educators should also monitor what kids are doing and who they’re talking to online. Adults should also look out for messages their children are hearing in songs and movies.
“So that is definitely another way that everybody can work together to help end trafficking by reducing demand and by making choices that change our culture from being so sexualized and from having our kids raised in this type of environment to one where we respect one another, we have healthy boundaries, and we see relationships in a different way," said Dr. Look.
You can further educate yourself by reading books about or written by human trafficking survivors.
There are also community events, like a human trafficking training happening at the Board of Supervisors on January 19 at 1115 Truxtun Av
from 2-4 p.m. You can attend in-person or virtually. Click here to watch online.