Nebraska authorites, nonprofits work to raise awareness of sex trafficking

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Officials say the number of human trafficking cases prosecuted in Nebraska jumped from 0 to 92 between 2007 and 2022.

That jump is due to a special task force created in 2015.

The goal of Nebraska’s human trafficking task force is to increase awareness that it’s happening throughout the state.

The more residents know what to look out for, the more they can prevent someone from being victimized.

Experts say knowing that it exists here in Lincoln and throughout Nebraska is the first step toward prevention.

A map from the task force outlines areas where human trafficking has been reported. It reveals that it’s not just in Lincoln or Omaha, it’s all over the state.

Nebraska State Patrol Lt. Monty Lovelace said one of the main routes used in this crime is right here in our own backyard.

“All across the nation. It’s a main highway through many states, it connects one coast to another, so not only are there sex trafficking issues that happen, there’s also drug trafficking and other types of crime.”

Paul Yates, executive director of the local nonprofit I’ve Got a Name, said the numbers he’s found attached to the crime are staggering.

“Creighton University released research that I believe was very unique, it’s the first of its kind in the country about sex trafficking in Nebraska. You can find that research on our website, it’s amazing. They found that every 30-day period at least 900 girls are sex trafficked in Nebraska. In Lincoln at least 200 woman and girls are for sale every 30-day period.”

Only one to two percent of trafficked kids are recovered, according to Yates.

Children can be trafficked in a number of ways, but in 2022, the primary means for a trafficker to gain access to unsuspecting kids is online.

“We see that there is a correlation to the use of the internet and people that are trafficked. So I would tell any of your viewers that are listening to be careful who they talk to online, especially to teens, don’t talk to people that you don’t know,” Lt. Lovelace said. “Set your privacy setting to wear your keeping your personal information private. Eliminate risky behaviors like going to places with excessive drugs and alcohol use.”

And if you have been sex trafficked, Yates wants you to know that there is help available.

“If you’re out there and you’re being sexually exploited, or you’re being trafficked, reach out to us, go through our website, you can remain anonymous,” Yates said.

If you or someone you know is being sex trafficked call 1-888-373-7888.

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