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Child sex trafficking: Truth and the misconceptions

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 8:58 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 2:50 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Thursday is Wear Blue Day, it’s part of the Child Advocacy Center’s awareness campaign in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

For many, it’s easy to picture a scene from a movie when thinking about sex trafficking but the reality looks much different.

Sex trafficking is the commercial exchange for a sex act for anything of value without consent – through fraud, force, or non-physical coercion – or taken from someone under 18.

“I think people often have the conception that sex trafficking often involves a windowless van and somebody comes up and throws them in the van,” said Glen Parks, Assistant Attorney General. “Abductions happen, but much much more frequently it’s a grooming process.”

It’s important to know that for sex trafficking to occur, a victim doesn’t need to be moved across state lines.

It’s even more important to understand that what is happening is not prostitution, as the party being trafficked as a minor cannot consent.

“The most common scenario is that a slightly older gentleman will come and address a vulnerable person and they will develop a fraudulent relationship,” Parks said. “It usually involves a physical relationship at one point and with that bond then they force the victim to engage in commercial sex with other people.”

Parks said reporting of sex trafficking has increased in Nebraska over the years. Not necessarily because it’s happening more, but because people are more aware it’s going on and looking for the signs.

“They won’t make eye contact, someone else answers for them, perhaps their ID is being held by someone else,” Parks said.

Parks also said working in tandem with experts at the Child Advocacy Center is important when it comes to interviewing victims.

“It’s very vital to what we do to be able to get the truth,” Parks said. “To get the victims to feel comfortable, to tell the truth.”

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