More than 500 people are meeting in Oakland, Calif., for a conference aimed at ending human trafficking and the exploitation of children.
The activist group H.E.A.T. Watch organized the event, which started June 13 and ends Friday.
H.E.A.T. leaders say increasing awareness about trafficking victims has helped. They are urging people to continue spreading the word about this atrocity.
Since 2011, more than 180 people have been convicted thanks to human rights efforts. Still, human trafficking is still on the rise and its victims are getting even younger.
"The average is 13 years old, but we do have some kids who have come in as young as 11," Alameda County district attorney Nancy O'Malley said.
Protestors outside of the convention center where the conference was held knocked down police barriers and vandalized the building.
Opponents claim the conference is a launching pad for continued repression of sex industry workers and that these efforts only serve to empower police agencies.
Community leaders, activists, and law enforcement workers are among those attending the National H.E.A.T. Watch Conference.
Their goal is to plan and organize new efforts to fight human trafficking from the local level on up.