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Human trafficking seminar aims to provide the tools to notice it and call authorities

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 10:04 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -A human trafficking seminar held on Monday sought to teach the tools needed to spot the criminal behavior and to contact the proper authorities. Eighty percent of human trafficking in Wisconsin is sex related.

According to advocates, force, fraud, and coercion are the three things that classifies sex trafficking, and social media has exacerbated the problem allowing traffickers to groom victims online.

“It may start off as an internet case, someone who contacts them through the internet but it can also be in person. The trafficker knowing where to find them,” Shelby Mitchell, anti-trafficking advocate at the Sexual Assault Center, said.

Mitchell said at the seminar that sex trafficking is the most common form of trafficking.

“Thankfully our state has been very progressive in learning what human trafficking is and not prosecuting someone for a prostitution type of case when they are a victim of a crime,” Mitchell said.

The non-profit We All Rise organized Monday’s seminar at their Green Bay office located at 430 S Webster, and shared data that stated sex trafficking victims are 40% black and 24% Latinx.

“To both spread awareness and to get people involved...we do have several other workshops coming up this month,” Heleema Berg said. She’s the Black Youth Alliance Wisconsin Community Coordinator at We All Rise.

Labor trafficking is believed to be underreported because of fear that exploited victims would be deported or fired. Human trafficking doesn’t have to move across state lines to be considered as such.

“People don’t think it’s happening here, they think it’s more like bigger city things. That it’s not happening locally, but these things are happening locally and they need to be addressed,” Berg said.

There are signs one should look for in sex trafficking: unexplained absences from school; older boyfriend or girlfriends; signs of physical abuses; and talks of wild parties.

“You also have that gut instinct. That if something is telling you it’s not right, to pay attention to that,” Mitchell said.

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