Zoe Dos Santos

When people think of sex trafficking and exploitation, they think of media images of people in chains or shackles. However, the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is much more nuanced than that, and it’s constantly evolving—especially online.

“Sex trafficking and exploitation happens in your backyard; your community.” Zoe Dos Santos, the CSEC Coordinator for Hampden County, said. “There are so many kids and adolescents who are missed because people don’t understand what CSEC and trafficking and exploitation means.”

MACA’s CSEC Service Enhancement Project helped provide 31,775 CSEC services and 176 outreach activities to education communities about CSEC during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

According to Dos Santos, the number of community services and resources has increased dramatically compared to a few years ago.

“CSEC evolves over time for a variety of different reasons, but we have moved with the times and have created a lot of programs,” Dos Santos said. “We’ve also collaborated with a lot of different community agencies that have not only helped us spread awareness, but have joined in the collaboration to issue wraparound care.”

“The support and training MACA provides has definitely helped not only this position by the program itself,” Dos Santos said. “The new position that they created to support us as coordinators and to support our county has been extremely helpful. [MACA] knew we needed the help, and their collaborative approach shows that they care a lot about coordinators and the program.

“MACA’s intentions are positive, and they’re in the right place,” Dos Santos added. “They’re constantly evolving, constantly teaching, constantly learning so many different people to be on the same page, and ultimately it’s to protect and serve our kids. Any teen is vulnerable to CSEC. If you have more education, you’re able to help with prevention and you’re able to spread awareness. That’s one of the biggest things that anyone can do.”

Learn more about prevention, awareness, and other trainings for CSEC so that you can join the fight to end child abuse.

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