Human Trafficking is the misuse of other people. This often happens for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Many youth who are being trafficked do not see themselves as victims.
“Often times there are promises of gifts such as electronics or clothing or youth see this relationship as a way to escape the rules or chaos of their families” according to Stacey Frolik, Director of Barron County Department of Health and Human Services.
Youth may not realize they are being trafficked. Being trafficked can happen at any age. All youth are at risk, although some youth are more at risk. Trafficking occurs in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. It is a statewide issue. Youth can be recruited online and in public spaces. Child Sex Trafficking is happening in Barron County. Anyone can be a trafficker.
In Wisconsin Sex Trafficking of a Child involves another person benefiting from forcing, defrauding, or coercing a child into a commercial sex act with another person (s.948.051 Wis. Stat).
All adults should learn the signs and report suspected trafficking. Common signs may include:
- Travel out of the area/to somewhere out of the ordinary or unusual for the child without caregiver permission and/or knowledge
- Child has a history of school truancy
- Child has a history of physical or sexual abuse
- Child has family/friends who have been or are currently involved in the commercial sex industry (e.g., sex worker, exotic dancing, pornography)
- Reports by child or adults that the child has a history of multiple sexual partners (known or unknown)
- Child has possession of money, electronics, or other material items that are unexplained, unusual, or out of the ordinary for that child (e.g., nails, hair, clothing, shoes)
- Child has sexually explicit pictures of themselves that may or may not be on the internet
- Child has an older boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, or is unwilling to provide information about the sex partner
- Child has a history of sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancies
- Gang affiliation is reported, confirmed, or suspected
- Child has a history of being missing/runaway/kicked out 2 or more times within the last 6 months (caregiver doesn’t know where/who child is with)
- Confirmed or reported use of hotels for parties or sexual encounters
- Child has unexplained injuries
- Child has unusual, unexplained, or out of the ordinary tattoos
To Report a case of suspected Human Trafficking contact the Barron County Sheriff’s Department at 715-537-3106, Barron County Health and Human Services at 715-537-5691.