Zonta Burbank to Host Free Forum on Protecting Minors from Online Exploitation

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The increasing prevalence of online exploitation, especially of minors, has become a major concern in our society today. To address this alarming issue, the Zonta Club of Burbank Area will be hosting a free Human Trafficking Forum on Saturday, January 27th.

This event is part of the club’s ongoing commitment to combatting human trafficking and raising awareness about its impact on the community. With an impressive lineup of speakers, including a survivor, law enforcement representative, and advocates in the fight against human trafficking, the forum aims to educate the parents, caregivers, and the public about the dangers of online exploitation and how to protect vulnerable populations, especially children. The speakers will cover a range of topics, including signs of exploitation, preventive measures, and resources available for victims and their families.

“This Human Trafficking Forum organized by Zonta Burbank is intended to provide information to the community about the different forms of trafficking and to dispel the ‘Hollywood version’ of this crime. Child sexual exploitation and abuse, whether online or not, has been on the rise in the last few years, particularly since the pandemic,” said Gloria Salas, Zonta International District 9 Governor-elect and a Burbank resident. 

“Young girls and boys are being targeted through social media, online gaming apps, at malls, community centers, parks, schools – regardless of socioeconomic status. Zonta wants to raise awareness of this insidious crime and how to report it to local law enforcement,” Salas continued.

Speakers include Sandy Esparza, a survivor and representative from ZOE International, who will share her personal experiences and insights into the challenges faced by victims. Activist Patrick Erlandson of Father-Con is scheduled to speak on the role of fathers and families in prevention, while Nayeli May, the Executive Director of Journey Out, will discuss strategies for aiding victims and survivors. Completing the list of speakers is Sergeant J.H. Walker from the Los Angeles County Human Trafficking Taskforce, who will provide a law enforcement perspective on the issue.

Zonta, known for its dedication to empowering women and advocating for human rights, views this event as a vital step in mobilizing the community against human trafficking.

Zonta Club of Burbank Area President Kelli Potts emphasized the importance of the event, stating, “It’s essential for our community to understand the realities of human trafficking, especially the disturbing trend of online exploitation of minors. This forum is a critical opportunity to learn from experts and take proactive steps to protect our children.”

The Human Trafficking Forum is scheduled to take place on January 27th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Buena Vista Public Library Community Auditorium at 300 N. Buena Vista Street in Burbank. The event is free and open to the public, and the club encourages community members, educators, parents, and local authorities to attend. Registration details and more information can be found on the Zonta Club of Burbank Area’s website.

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