The City of Phoenix released a new public service announcement about human trafficking to raise more awareness about the "epidemic."
The debut of the PSA came on Wednesday, which is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which kicks off National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
The video features city officials and Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, has been an advocate for human trafficking victims, which is part of her humanitarian work at the McCain Institute.
"It is unacceptable that this is such a prevalent activity," McCain said. "We have a long way to go. It's still happening. It's still an epidemic. Backpage and others still exist and operate freely."
The United States Department of Justice considers Phoenix one of the top human-trafficking areas in the country. Most victims are forced into sex trafficking before they are 15 years old.
"These are not hardened criminals. These are people who need and I think deserve our help and we're trying to provide that," Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring said.
[RELATED: How to help human trafficking victims]
The City of Phoenix established a task force in 2013 ahead of Super Bowl 49 that was played in Glendale in 2015 to help combat human trafficking called the Compass Plan. It includes training for police officers and providing services for victims.
The City also increased penalties for crimes linked to human trafficking, which included mandatory bookings and a rise in fines, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.
"Each of us has a part we can play to fight human trafficking, a responsibility to do everything that we can in the fight against human trafficking," Stanton said. "It touches anyone. Each of us has to be part of the solution."
Phoenix also turned a vacant rental property in downtown Phoenix into a housing complex for victims of human trafficking called Starfish Place. Stanton said that in July, 15 new units would be added to the facility.
To learn more about the warning signs and risk factors of sex trafficking, read below or click here.
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