District Attorney Partners with Community Organizations to Help Youth Human Trafficking Victims

February 7, 2013

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167
ADA Alex Bastian, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1931

9-Year Old Girl Honored for Global Effort to End Child Slavery with ‘Make a Stand Lemonade’

San Francisco – Today, District Attorney George Gascón was joined by Sherilyn Adams of Larkin Street Youth Services, Ellyn Bell of Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE), and Kaina Walker of Youth Justice Institute to announce a partnership to help youth human trafficking victims. Recognizing a gap in services, the partnership launched the “Exploit No More Youth Hotline” to provide a safe way for young victims of human trafficking under age 18 to get help and receive services.

“Human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. It is an underground crime that strips victims of their freedom and their basic human rights,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “We have a responsibility to help youth victims find a way out. That is why I am proud to partner with Larkin Street Youth Services, SAGE and Youth Justice Institute to provide youth victims of human trafficking a safe way to access comprehensive services.”

Human trafficking is considered one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world. Human trafficking strips victims of their basic human rights. Often victims are forced, defrauded or coerced into forced labor or sexual exploitation or both. According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, in 2011 there were almost 20,000 phone calls made to their national hotline, up from 6,000 in 2008 with California as the leading state. It is estimated there are 100,000 children in the Untied States who are trafficked to be in sex trade each year.

"Larkin Street recognizes the value in partnership to bring together resources to better serve the youth in our community." said Sherilyn Adams, Executive Director of Larkin Street Youth Services. "We are grateful for the efforts of District Attorney Gascón in his facilitation of these efforts and know that with SAGE and Youth Justice Institute we can provide youth human trafficking victims with the vital services and care that they need."

Under the partnership agreement, Larkin Street Youth Services will staff the 24 hour Exploit No More Youth Hotline and provide shelter beds, SAGE will provide case management and life skills classes. Youth Justice Institute will provide mental health services, and the District Attorney’s Office will provide victim advocates. The Exploit No More Hotline is 1-800-669-6196.

In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness month in San Francisco, District Attorney Gascón honored Vivenne Harr, a nine-year old girl from Marin County who sparked a movement to end child slavery. Moved by a photograph of two young enslaved boys carrying slabs of concrete on their backs, Vivenne created a lemonade stand last summer to raise money to end child slavery. On her website, she says “I was terrified. Not by them–because they are just like me–but by the lives they live. It hurt my heart.” She has since raised $150,000 and is now bottling her “lemon-aid” and giving all the profits to end slavery. For more info about “Make a Stand Lemon-Aid” go to www.makeastandlemonade.com.