What role does technology play in human trafficking?

A person has been arrested for sending a sexually explicit email to a local high school. The Butler County Sheriff’s Office says they were offering money for explicit photos of minors.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – For the past three months, the Seward and Butler County Sheriff’s Offices have been working together on a sex trafficking of a minor investigation.

In May, an East Butler High School student email account was contacted by someone offering money for explicit photographs of a minor.

This week, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office says a warrant was obtained for the main suspect in the case, who was interviewed, arrested and lodged at the Butler County Jail.

Paul Yates is the executive director of I’ve Got a Name, an anti-sex trafficking nonprofit in Lincoln. He says that students and parents should be aware of the role technology plays in human trafficking in the state.

“Technology, unfortunately plays a large role in human trafficking,” Yates said. “People will solicit you on that phone, they will seek you out on that phone and your computer, so you have to really, really be on top of things.”

A 2017 Creighton University report on human trafficking estimates that 900 people per month are sold for sex in the state of Nebraska.

Yates says it’s not uncommon for sex traffickers to target adolescents on the internet.

“Those that often get caught up in human trafficking, are seeking some kind of attention, you know, seeking some kind of affirmation for who they are,” Yates said. “The individual or individuals say something that they just want to hear, that they need to hear, and they just start to lure them in.”

In the East Butler High School case, the explicit message was intercepted by the school’s security software.

Still, Yates says parents and kids should have conversations about being vigilant with technology.

“We need to have that dialogue, technology is only going to increase,” Yates said. “It’s not too late to start talking to your kids today.”

The Seward County Sheriff’s Office declined an interview request for this story, as they are continuing this investigation. If you have any information about a minor receiving similar emails, please call 402-643-2359.

Categories: Lancaster, Nebraska News, News, Seward