"Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It's here, it's here now, it's always going to be here and we have to do something to stop it,"said Patricia Rodican, junior at Brien McMahon High School and member of the Center for Youth Leadership's Peace Project.
On Tuesday morning, Brien McMahon High School's Center for Youth Leadership marked January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
During a presentation given at the high school, Rodican said, "The average American too often associated trafficking with countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. Many people do not realize that an estimated 150 thousand children are forced into prostitution every year in the United States."
Since 2008 the Connecticut Department for Children and Families has identified and confirmed more than 150 children as victims of domestic minor sex trafficking - evidence that this is an issue in our backyard.
Nicole von Oy, Training and Outreach Coordinator for Love 146, an anti-trafficking organization said, "This reality doesn't just exist overseas. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimate that there are more than 100 thousand American being trafficked into sexual exploitation annually. "
Representative Bruce Morris said, "You have a number of kids who are persuaded into prostitution. They are lured into by the money, the glitz and the glam and it isn't unti they get trapped that they begin to understand just how violent it is and lose hope."
The Center for Youth Leadership says it will continue to put on programs throughout the month raising awareness on human trafficking.
Rodican said, "Some students don't know what it is. Before I joined Peace Project I had no idea what human trafficking was, mostly because we don't tend to hear about it that much on the news. So people aren't really educated about it and that's why we are here. We are trying to educate people, we are trying to spread awareness, because not everybody knows what's going on, and we need to help."