The North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force reports that they helped 322 clients this past year, and today they were targeting a different group of people.
In order for the growing issue to stop — everyone must be included in the conversation.
“To really tailor it to specific communities. To look at the resources that we have or what we can tap into,” said Kristina Knutson, Sexual Assault Program Coordinator, CAWS.
That is one of the goals for a two-day training sponsored by the North Dakota Human Trafficking Task Force. Over 70 law enforcement, counselors, and community members showed up to learn what they can do.
“Right now we’re trying to bolster the capacity of professionals working with victims and survivors,” said Knutson.
Knutson said anyone can be a victim of human trafficking and because of that it is very hard to spot this out in the open.
She said, “A victim or survivor of human trafficking looks a lot like you and me. Maybe a young person with a much older person and are carrying a lot of cash on them.”
In 2011 the website BACKPAGE.com was accused of being a hub for sex trafficking for both adults and minors. Since, the page has been seized by the Department of Justice, but one law enforcement agent at the training said traffickers are using other tools to lure victims.
“Sometimes you will see some victims or potential victims are reached out to on different social medias, social media apps. It’s not just websites anymore. Sometimes it’s just word of mouth,” said Aaron Moss, Crime Prevention officer, Minot PD.
More than half of victims of trafficking are under the age of 18 and Moss said being active in your child’s life can add an extra layer of protection.
Moss said, “We always suggest that you monitor your kid’s social media accounts and be involved in their life. Be part of the solution. I’ve always said in a proactive nonaccusatory way.”
He said he hopes that more organizations can come together and bring more awareness to the issue, and hopefully, one day stop the problem.
The training will make its next stop in Devils Lake. To find out more information and even resources about human trafficking, CLICK HERE.