For Immediate Release
January 6, 2022
Gene Kennedy, Senior Public Information Specialist
Riverside County’s Anti-Human Trafficking Forum Starts Monday Online
Public, media invited to learn about impacts and how to protect youth and others at risk
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif.— Opal Singleton Hendershot has seen human trafficking throughout the world, and she hopes that sharing her experiences at an online conference set for Monday will bring strong awareness about the exploitation of at-risk youth and adults.
The media and public are invited to hear Singleton Hendershot, survivors and experts at a series of panels between Jan. 10-13 at the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Conference. Visitors can register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/riverside-county-dpss-csec-conference-tickets-219384132847
“Online predators work to gain the trust of children who are often already emotionally vulnerable, and they use that to prey on youth,” said Singleton Hendershot, President and CEO of Million Kids, a non-profit that specializes in online safety and human trafficking prevention.
The Riverside County Department of Public Social Services hosts the yearly event to coincide with national awareness efforts on human slavery and trafficking throughout January.
Officials in Riverside County confirmed more than 200 cases of child sex trafficking in 2020. Children and youth struggling with homelessness, a history of maltreatment, sexual abuse, low self-esteem and minimal social support are at greater risk.
“Every child deserves to be protected from exploitation and this event provides parents, guardians and community partners with tangible tools to help keep our kids safe,” said Charity Douglas, assistant director of Children’s Services.
The 2022 conference will address different types of human trafficking, including labor trafficking, misconceptions about trafficking, how victims are groomed and ways to help youth positively develop. Online vendors will also provide educational materials and support for victims.
Conference speakers include; Michael Hestrin, Riverside County District Attorney; Grace Ayala, Community Health Educator from Desert Aids Project (DAP) Health and Denise Bowman, Director of Forensic Services and Victim Advocacy with Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center.
Anyone who suspects someone might be a victim of human trafficking should call the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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