Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Sex Trafficking Presentation Informs Community

On Tuesday, a sex trafficking presentation for parents was held at Laona High School. The information session was a collaboration between the Forest County Health Department and Forest County Potawatomi Community Health with 5-STONES of Appleton. The presentation provided information for parents on the facts, signs, prevention and correct responses for sex trafficking.
The 5-STONES program was created to inform everyone, kids and parents, and focuses on victims under the age 18, as they are the most frequent victims. Though anyone can be a victim, male or female, the typical age range is 12 to 14 for girls, and 11 to 13 for boys.

“Sex Trafficking that’s happening in the northern part of the state is focusing largely on children, and our most vulnerable young adults, so it’s good to get information out to them early and as often as possible,” said Forest County Sheriff Detective Sergeant Michael Short.

Trafficking is happening in all 72 counties in Wisconsin, including Forest County. It is a massive, $32 billion industry with more than 100,000 children who are victims in the United States, and this number does not include those who are deemed missing. There are 26,000 runaways in Wisconsin every year, and one out of three of those will be approached by a sex trafficker within 48 hours. Sex trafficking is also estimated to increase by 39% in Wisconsin during the 2020 Democratic Convention that will be held in Milwaukee due to the influx of people there at that time.

A primary reason for the industry’s growth is due to organized crime finding that human trafficking is more lucrative than selling drugs. Drugs are a one-time product that needs to be replaced, whereas with trafficking, they can repeatedly use a person.

Social media is a main way that traffickers find victims. They also appear wherever kids hang out, including malls, casinos, around the schools and at parks.

Traffickers are called pimps. Victims approach them for a multitude of reasons seeking shelter, money, food, basic needs, love, adventure, gifts and to seek the love of “family”. Of these, the desire for love, adventure or attention are the most prevalent, with many victims coming from broken homes.

Once a pimp has identified a victim, they will use multiple tactics to keep people trapped including emotional manipulation, lies, video

Forest County Sheriff Detective Sergeant Michael Short (left) and Forest County Sheriff Detective Sergeant Tom Robinson

blackmail, isolation from friends and family, physical violence, threats, drug debts and alcohol. They make victims feel that staying with them is the victim’s only option.

“If you see something, say something. If you see something that’s strange or looks suspicious, report it to the proper authorities whether it’s a child or a teen. You can report it to a guardian, an adult or school counselor, but try to get the word out on the signs and stuff to look for. And get them to report to the proper people,” said Forest County Sheriff Detective Sergeant Tom Robinson.

Some red flags that someone may be being trafficked are:

  • They are frequently tired
  • They drop friends
  • They have a much older lover
  • They have personal or family struggles
  • They are constantly absent from school
  • Signs of abuse, alcohol or drugs
  • An increase in expensive items

If you suspect someone is being trafficked or is in danger of being trafficked, contact someone! You may call 911, Wisconsin 211 or the Polaris Project at 1-888-373-7888. Don’t go home alone, and always remember that you might be the only voice for a victim!

For more information, visit the 5-STONES website, call 920-358-9596 or visit the Facebook page.