February 4, 2013

The numbers are astounding, and at first glance, seem almost incredible.

Across the world, there are between 100,000 and 250,000 children who are victims of sex trafficking, said Laura Lederer, founder of the Global Centurion Foundation, which seeks to target trafficking by focusing on demand.

But the perception that the practice of selling girls for sex is restricted to Asia, Eastern Europe or Africa belies the overwhelming problem in the United States, which annually is highlighted by the spike in organized sex trafficking at major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, said Lederer.

“We have a homegrown sex trafficking problem,” she said.

Trafficking girls for sex is such a major concern that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans has established a Human Trafficking Joint Task Force that, in advance of the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, is working with various groups to combat the problem.

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond, Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife, Gayle, and other city officials will air a public service announcement before the Super Bowl to raise public awareness and ask people to remain vigilant if they suspect sex trafficking.

“Human trafficking, modern-day slavery, is a powerful evil,” Aymond says in the PSA.