Youth, their parents and educators will have the opportunity to learn about the dangers of human trafficking at an educational event later this month.

The Long Beach Human Trafficking Task Force (LBHTTF) is joining the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) and the Long Beach PTA to present the first Youth Exploitation Safety Symposium (YESS).

More than 80 organizations, workshops and speakers will give presentations at the free event aimed at keeping youth safe from the world of human trafficking.

Speakers will include Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-70), Long Beach City Councilman Rex Richardson, Long Beach Deputy Police Chief David Hendricks and LBUSD Board of Education President Diana Craighead.

Documentarian Nicole Clark will serve as the keynote speaker and will give a presentation on the media’s negative effects on girls’ self-image and self-esteen.

“The safety of young people in this age of the internet and rapidly increasing sophistication in the exploitation of children, is of critical importance in the 21st Century,” said Patrick Erlandson, YESS co-chair. “It takes more than law enforcement and the courts to defeat the nightmare of human trafficking and cyber-crimes being perpetrated against younger and younger victims. It will take community awareness and vigilance from parents, fellow students to look out for each other, their teachers and healthcare workers who educate and treat them. This first annual symposium will provide up-to-date information and resources for parents, teens and teachers.”

The free event will take place January 31 from 9:00AM to 3:00PM at Cabrillo High School, located at 2001 Santa Fe Avenue.

The event is open to parents, educators and students in grades eight to 12. There will be supervised recreational activities for childen under 13.

In related news, Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe today declared January as “National Human Trafficking Month” countywide.

“Over the past several years, we have made significant strides in our efforts to combat the sexual exploitation of children for money across our region,” said Supervisor Knabe in a statement. “I’m extremely proud of the progress we’ve made. Together with County departments, law enforcement, non-profit agencies, and the support of a bi-partisan group of state legislators, we have been able to support the true victims of this heinous crime and bring to justice those who buy and sell children for profit. We’ve come a long way—but there is still much more work to be done. In 2015, our priorities will be to more aggressively crack down on the demand side of the industry and to change the language surrounding sex trafficking by removing the word ‘prostitute’ and ‘child prostitute’ from our vocabulary. No child grows up dreaming of being manipulated emotionally and physically into a hellish life of exploitation. It is our responsibility to protect these victims, to wrap our arms around them and provide them with all the services they need to get on the road to recovery. I’m confident that as we continue building awareness of this issue, and expand our training of employees and law enforcement across the County, we can help these victims walk the path to a better life.”

For more information about the YESS event, click here.