ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) – A new social media campaign designed to raise awareness against child trafficking has taken the internet by storm.
Child advocacy groups in Altoona are hoping this campaign will bring awareness to the problem on a more local level.
The hashtags #SaveTheChildren and #SaveOurChildren, have grabbed attention in the U.S., as alarm continues to rise over child trafficking in our country.
They have been tweeted and shared 100’s of thousands of times over recent weeks.
Ashley Owens and Ashley Gay-Vocco are both Program Directors for Child Advocacy and Victim Services in Blair County.
The women have put together a task force to combat sex trafficking in the area and say the best thing that could come from this hashtag campaign is community support.
“Raise awareness online, but also know that there are entities in our community that could use their support, could use fundraising, could use a person at the table there ready to learn,” explained Owens.
Ashley Gay-Vocco provides advocates for children who have been victim to trafficking.
She says education is the greatest form of prevention. That includes being able to recognize what’s going on, and how to address it.
“The largest need we have is to continue to raise awareness of what it actually looks like, Looking to our neighbor, knowing what the red flags are. Looking to that child who sits next to us on the school bus.Ashley Gay-Vocco, Program Director, Family Services Victims Program
Both women are actively searching for volunteers to join their community task force, and say that if you don’t want to volunteer, donations are also needed.
Statistics show women and children starting at the age of 11 make up 86% of human trafficking victims.
Anyone interested in joining the local taskforce can find more information here.