Ending Human Trafficking in San Diego

“PCI is fighting human trafficking in San Diego by educating children, parents and teachers about the signs and risk factors, and offering empowerment programs that reduce children’s vulnerability to traffickers. We are honored to work in partnership with the D.A., law enforcement, and victim services to fight this horrific problem.”

– Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President and CEO


On any given day, some 40 million people around the world are estimated to be forced into labor or sexual exploitation, and an astonishing one in four victims of this modern form of slavery are children (International Labor Organization). Human trafficking is an $810 million business in San Diego, which ranks among the FBI’s top 13 cities for high intensity prostitution of children. Research shows that thousands of people are victimized every year and significant recruitment is happening on middle and high school campuses across San Diego county. In fact, the average age of recruitment is just 16.

PCI works to prevent children and vulnerable populations from becoming human trafficking victims, with a specific focus on ending domestic sex trafficking of minors in the U.S.

What Does Human Trafficking Look Like? 

  • Women and Children: According to human trafficking statistics compiled by the The International Labour Organization, there are an estimated 20.9 million human trafficking victims across the world, with the majority of them being women and girls. A shocking 26% of total trafficking victims are children. The average age of entry into sex trafficking in San Diego is 16 years old.
  • The Most Vulnerable: Multiple studies have found that human trafficking victims come from the most vulnerable populations, including those living in poverty, children in the foster care system, persons with disabilities, runaway youth and those with a history of abuse. In San Diego, 55% of human trafficking victims reported that they were or had been homeless and 28% reported they had been in foster care.
  • Sexual Exploitation: Globally, 22% of human trafficking victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, which can be prostitution, sex shows (public or private), production and distribution of pornography and sex tourism. In San Diego, there are an estimated 3,400 – 8,100 victims of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking every year.
  • Big Business: It’s estimated that each year human trafficking and forced labor generate $150 billion worldwide (ILO). The underground sex industry in San Diego County alone is worth approximately $810 million annually and is the second largest criminal industry in the county.
PCI's Girls Only! program

How PCI Works to Prevent Human Trafficking

PCI is addressing human trafficking at local and national levels through four major intervention areas:


Girls Only!/Boys Only! is an after-school intervention that aims to build the resilience of vulnerable children aged 8 – 12 through the provision of group mentoring and coping skills in a safe and trusted environment. Open discussions on real life threats and challenges, peer-to-peer exchanges, and social emotional learning contribute to the participants’ empowerment and ability to make positive life choices, including keeping them safe from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. Partners include the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego and the San Diego Unified Schools PrimeTime program.

Girls Only!/Boys Only! is an integral part of the San Diego Trafficking Prevention Collective – a comprehensive prevention education program PCI is rolling out with our partners PROTECT and kNOw MORE in schools across San Diego to:

  • Teach San Diego’s school-age population how to avoid becoming victims of exploitation;
  • Coordinate the trafficking prevention efforts of San Diego County with local agencies, school systems, and other stakeholders;
  • Train county leadership, administrators, and educators to identify children that are, or may be at risk of being exploited, and how to proceed when potential victims are identified.


No buyers, no business! PCI is a collaborative partner of the CEASE Network, which represents 11 cities dedicated to fighting the demand for illegal commercial sex throughout the U.S. Each city is dedicated to innovating, testing and sharing strategies with a proven impact on deterring people from buying sex.

How can you help?

Support PCI’s efforts to enhance health, end hunger and overcome hardship worldwide.



PCI partners with local organizations to:

  • Provide training and technical assistance to local stakeholders on identifying and treating victims of sex trafficking;
  • Co-facilitate monthly anti-trafficking meetings; and
  • Support public awareness and community outreach activities geared towards ending human trafficking in San Diego.

PCI is also collaborating with local partners to form a coalition of San Diego-based corporations and employers who are committed to preventing human trafficking and sex buying behavior. The Business Alliance Against Trafficking will support local employers in protecting their businesses from the risks associated with human trafficking through best practices such as adopting policies that prohibit sex buying, raising awareness and training employees on the issue, donating resources to local anti-trafficking organizations, and creating safe employment opportunities for survivors.


PCI conducts “Human Trafficking 101” trainings to broaden community awareness of the issue and increase the number of sex and labor trafficking victims who are identified and rescued. The curriculum builds the capacity of community-based organizations (i.e. clinics, churches, and nonprofits) to train their own staff to identify human trafficking victims and refer them to the appropriate resources.

For more information about PCI’s trafficking prevention efforts, please contact us.

Recent News

View All

Keep in Touch

Subscribe today and stay current on our efforts to enhance health, end hunger, overcome hardship and advance women & girls worldwide!

Sign up to receive updates