A group of Encinitas teens spent their Saturday off, not by relaxing, but by spreading the word about an issue they believe to be important.
The teens held a presentation Oct. 7 at San Dieguito Academy (SDA) regarding human sex trafficking, which they referred to as "modern slavery."
"We believe that everyone has value that is beyond what you can buy, and no one should be treated like objects," said Isaac Rosenbaum, 17, who spearheaded the event.
The senior at SDA and his group of peers in the school's faith-based community club called Mission Mustang presented about 400 attendees with a 16-minute video that included interviews with former prostitutes, human trafficking officers in the San Diego Police Department and leaders of nonprofit organizations surrounding the subject.
Rosenbaum said the students wanted to present the subject in this way to "share this message of freedom from the shame, guilt and lack of identity, and all of these things that so many teenagers deal with that are either the byproduct of being trafficked ... or things that can eventually lead up to it."
He added that one of the biggest things he learned from this project is that San Diego is one of the top cities in the country for child sex trafficking because of its proximity to the freeway and border, as well as it being a wealthier community.
"Although, in any big city, or even in the suburbs, it is important to know that human trafficking is an issue that we need to be aware of if we are going to stop the trade," he said.
The event, which Rosenbaum began planning more than a year ago, also included a battle of the bands, which he said was added to making the event more light-hearted and increase their reach for advertising.
"We wanted people to come together around this issue, to fight human trafficking and end slavery," he said. "That alone is something worth celebrating."
Through the event, Mission Mustang raised more than $1,000 for organizations that rescue young women, especially those in high school, from prostitution and sex trafficking. Money was also donated to Hookers for Jesus, a nonprofit helping former prostitutes get back on their feet.
In the video, Hookers for Jesus founder Annie Lobert described painful parts of her own past with prostitution in Las Vegas, including about the first night she was stolen, how she was beaten by her pimp, when she was raped, when she got cancer and when she attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on cocaine.
“It made me learn so much about the people who are involved, and it was so inspiring to hear how she forgave her pimps, and is now working hard every day to rescue more and more girls from the [Las Vegas] Strip and from the life of sex trafficking,” Rosenbaum said.
He said that teenagers specifically should be made more aware of sex trafficking since many people in that age range can be victims. One in five porn actors or actresses are underage, Rosenbaum said.
"I believe that we can end slavery completely, if the young men and women of this world are aware that they simply have to be the generation that stops buying people for sex, and stops selling themselves for sex," he said. "If you can get that message to them when they are young, then you have a shot at ending slavery in this community."
To view the video presented by Mission Mustang, visit www.youtu.be/cbFw4xPsiCE.