Sean Levesque, West Central Youth for Christ director, offered a message that was abundantly clear Feb. 25.
When it comes to domestic minor sex trafficking, no community is immune.
“Human trafficking is happening in every single community in America,” said Levesque.
Levesque was in Redwood Falls Feb. 25 to present the realities of human trafficking as part of a local awareness effort. The community was invited to attend, and more than 25 people representing the faith, education and business communities were in attendance for the presentation which was held at the American Legion hall.
According to Levesque, human trafficking is not being done by what people picture as the creepy looking guy you might see in your community.
Human trafficking is a business run by people who are good at what they do, he said, adding a growing number of those who are being trafficked are not kidnapped but live normal lives going to school during the day, turning tricks for a few hours after school and then doing their homework.
Access to people being trafficked has also become very easy, said Levesque, due to the Internet. He said through Web sites dedicated to human trafficking it is as easy for someone to order a child online for sex as it is to order a pizza.
Youth who end up being trafficked do not instantly get involved, said Levesque, adding those who traffic them may take up to a year to groom them.
One of the clues parents and community members should be aware of is if a young teenager, in that 12-13 range (although it can be much younger), starts seeing interest by someone much older.
High-school seniors don’t typically start paying attention to eighth graders, he said.
Kids who start coming to school with $200 jackets and bags, when one knows they don’t have the means to get them on their own, or who show up with new tattoos (Levesque said tattoos of things like bar codes, dollar signs or words like “daddy” should be cause for concern) are also a potential sign of someone who is being trafficked.
One can report trafficking by calling the national hotline at 1-888-373-7888.