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ASU honors student holding sex trafficking summit

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Sex trafficking is a growing problem – nationwide and here in the valley.

Teens are either lured or kidnapped into a life of forced prostitution.

"A lot of times people think, ‘Oh, that happens in foreign countries,'" said Angela Warren, an ASU senior majoring in Social Work. "Well, sex trafficking is taking place...right here in our own back yard."

Warren is directing the Inter-Faith Sex Trafficking Summit on Nov. 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Redemption Church in Tempe.

It's actually her Barrett honors thesis project and a topic Warren has spent six years researching.

She said any child, anywhere, can fall into the seedy world of sex trafficking.

"Most kids are at risk," said Warren. "Not just poor kids; not kids from bad neighborhoods."

The average age of a child sex trafficking victim in Arizona is 14.9, but, we don't know exactly how many are being forced into sex slavery.

"The statistics vary because there's not really been the ability to do solid research on this because - there's so many out there that we don't know about," said Warren.

She said teens aren't just meeting traffickers on the street.

They're being recruited by friends.

"A girl will be at school with a designer bag and designer clothes and another girl will say, "Oh my gosh- where did you get that? And, she will say I can show you how you can have it too," said Warren.

Warren said there are at least 13 organizations in Arizona – many that will have representatives at her summit - that are all doing the same work with sex trafficking victims.

She wants to see them collaborate.

"If they could find a way - not necessarily to create a single organization - but, begin to network with one another and support one another - this will increase the impact that this state of Arizona can have on this issue," Warren said.

The Governor's Task Force on Human Trafficking recently gave Governor Brewer their recommendations.

Once she makes a decision on which to implement, the goal is to have everything in effect before the Super Bowl rolls into town in 2015.

Warren said that's because big events attract buyers.

To learn more about her Inter-Faith Sex Trafficking Summit, email Warren at awarren2@asu.edu.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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