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New awareness campaign informs Wisconsin citizens about youth sex trafficking problem

In 2017, over 7,000 sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, including cases in Wisconsin.

Right now, Wisconsin residents are being trafficked in our cities, our suburbs, our rural towns, and our Tribal communities and in most cases, it is happening right in front of us. If we are going to put an end to this terrible form of child abuse, it is time to start talking about it.

In an effort to shed light on the issue of trafficking in Wisconsin, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has recently launched the “WI, We Need to Talk” public awareness campaign. The campaign is coming to billboards and social media feeds across the state, posters inside movie theaters in southern Wisconsin and bus shelters in Milwaukee.

Aimed at informing Wisconsin citizens about youth sex trafficking, the “WI, We Need to Talk” campaign can help you recognize the warning signs of trafficking that could be taking place in your community, and what you can do to help the young people who might be at risk.

“Youth sex trafficking is one of the most horrific forms of child abuse,” said Eloise Anderson, DCF Secretary. “The people who use vulnerable kids in this way, prey upon their isolation and past trauma, and rob them of their childhood. Through the ‘WI, We Need to Talk’ campaign, we hope to give the public the tools to recognize the signs of trafficking and help prevent traffickers from taking advantage of our youth.”

High-risk warning signs

  • Child has a history of being missing, running away or being kicked out two or more times within the last six months.
  • Confirmed or reported use of hotels for parties or sexual encounters.
  • Child has unusual, unexplained or out of the ordinary tattoos.
  • Child has unexplained injuries.

What to do

  • If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
  • If you suspect someone may be experiencing trafficking, report it to your local office of the state Department of Children and Families. Contact information can be found at dcf.wisconsin.gov/reportabuse.
  • Call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
  • Call 211 to get connected to resources in your area.

Sex trafficking is not a new issue, but many people still think of it as an international problem. The problem has been reported across Wisconsin, in rural and urban areas. Many young people who are being trafficked do not see themselves as victims and may not realize they are being trafficked.

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Department of Children and Families

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