GREAT FALLS, Va. (WJLA) - The Fairfax County Police Department has a new tool in the fight against sex trafficking; police are hoping a new public service announcement will help save local girls who are afraid to ask for help.
"A lot of people have a misunderstanding as to what human trafficking is," said FCPD Detective Bill Woolf.
Sex trafficking happens in Northern Virginia more than people might think.
"[Victims] are exploited and traumatized over and over on a daily basis, and they endure a great deal of trauma, including psychological and physical affects most people are not aware of," Det. Woolf said.
ABC 7 News cameras were rolling as FCPD filmed a PSA to help young people understand the dangers of sex trafficking. It's called "Just Ask"a prevention campaign to end sex trafficking among teens that is already working.
Earlier this week, Fairfax County Police arrested 23-year-old Tayron Weeks and charged him with attempted sex trafficking of a 14-year-old child. It was because of a class on sex trafficking that the victim realized something wasn't right.
"She thought that somebody was just talking to her about making money, and didn't realize until after she had got this education and awareness piece as to what he was really trying to trap her into," Det. Woolf said.
According to court documents, Weeks first approached the girl at a bus stop. The two had sex, and police say Weeks later attempted to involve the girl in prostitution, telling her she could earn $15,000 a night.
While crews shot the PSA, ABC 7 News spoke with Kyra Beckman, a senior at West Springfield High School who has been increasing awareness of sex trafficking among her peers through posters, wristbands and the website JustAskVA.org. The site features quizzes that will give you a sense of whether or not you are a victim of sex trafficking.
"The average age of entry in the U.S. is 13 years old, and I have a 13-year-old little brother, and the fact that kids that age were being exploited that much really struck a chord with me," Beckman said. "If you see anything suspicious, you can just ask anyone, because there [are] people there to help you."