ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — The Your Call MN campaign just launched in Minnesota. The campaign provides a place for trafficking victims to seek help, and a place for individuals to report suspected trafficking.
The campaign was created in collaboration with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), The Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force (MNHITF), Tribes United Against Sex Trafficking (TRUST) and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).
When a victim calls the line provided on the website, they will be connected to the BCA for further assistance. If someone wants to report suspected trafficking, they will also be routed to someone at the BCA who can help.
Kelly Haffield is commander of the TRUST Taskforce and a sex trafficking investigator with the Fond du Lac Reservation Tribal Police. She said trafficking isn’t usually about children tied up in a basement, although there have been scenarios like that. Haffield said it’s usually something that happens right under the noses of people and it affects all walks of life.
Haffield said many predators prey on children through social media. She said there are 6 stages of grooming a child which are:
Stage 1: Targeting a victim
Stage 2: Gaining trust
Stage 3: Filling a need
Stage 4: Isolating the child
Stage 5: Sexual contact
Stage 6: Maintaining control
“They try to fill a need with that person because a lot of times there’s issues going on where they don’t have family support or social support,” Haffield said. “Then, they isolate them from their friends or family and then the cycle of abuse begins.”
She said trafficking is widely underreported. The campaign is also incorporating training for police departments, schools, and hotel and casino workers.
“Traffickers will take their victims to places like hotels or casinos. It’s about being aware of things that look out of place,” Haffield said. “Look for an older man with a young girl who doesn’t look like his daughter. Or, she could be dressed in a provocative way that stands out. That could be wearing wearing a short dress with no jacket in the middle of winter.”
Haffield said children as young as 9 can be trafficked.
The company PeroDigm manages the campaign. CEO and Creative Director Rob Pero said there will be a 20-minute documentary that will debut in November. In the film, victims will tell their stories of being trafficked.
“We want to make people aware of what’s happening right in front our eyes. Even if you can’t see it, and maybe we don’t want to see it, it’s time we start looking at the ugly truth,” Pero said.
Haffield said parents should be open with their children about what predators look like and they should closely monitor their social media.