Work Being Done To Prevent Sex Trafficking
A child prostitution sting by the Nicollet County Sheriff's Office over the weekend received around 150 responses. Of that number, six were arrested and one more has a warrant out for his arrest.
The sting was just one of many over the last two years done by the Nicollet County Sheriff's Office.
"It is a problem and it's a bigger problem than we originally identified, we probably arrested 105 people, which is a lot of people in three counties," Investigator Marc Chadderdon said.
Chadderdon said he's not surprised by the numbers, they often can see around 100 responses to an ad.
Stings are only one part in stopping sex trafficking, the sheriff's office also works on community outreach. From schools to hospitals to financial workers, they give presentations on how to identify girls in crisis.
And once identified, it's about going after those who are doing the trafficking and getting resources for the victims and families.
"A lot of these girls are victims that are at risk youth and they come from families that are in crisis themselves," Chadderdon said.
Which is where The REACH, a youth drop-in center in Mankato, can help.
"Whether that's referring for counseling, getting orders for protection, we partner for other agencies, getting them into housing, maybe getting them into shelter, so they can move along and focus on getting out of that life," youth outreach worker Jane Vader said.
They recently received a grant through Safe Harbor to provide sex trafficking prevention education in high schools.
"We have a lot of work to do once we get them in high school, it's almost too late for a lot of people, so we would like to get into the middle schools eventually," Vader said.
Vader said, in Minnesota, the average age sex traffickers look for is 13.
--KEYC News 12.