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Channel 8 talked to an official who says the pandemic has not slowed down sex trafficking. Numbers have gone up.

LINCOLN, Neb., (KLKN)– Channel 8 talked to an official who says the pandemic has not slowed down sex trafficking. Numbers have gone up.
“There certainly is an increase in sex trafficking because of the isolation, because of a lot of issues that people face,” said Paul Yates, executive director for I’ve Got A Name. “That’s what the pandemic does, all of a sudden, just lifts up the desire to want to not be isolated, you know, and to purchase and destroy someone’s life. So, it’s had a big impact locally. I think the Polaris Project came out with some early statistics that it was going to increase or it had increased by 44%.”
Governor Pete Ricketts declared January 2021 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month in Nebraska.
Yates says the organization’s work has not slowed during this time. As some lose their jobs, he says sex trafficking becomes a way to make money or a way to escape from the isolation of the pandemic.
I’ve Got A Name does street outreach, helping local people in the capital city get out of the life of trafficking and they also provide services to those who have suffered trauma. Yates says the outreach coordinator is busy as the issue is right here in Lincoln.

“It has increased on the streets and Megan has seen that dramatically the first month or so it was somewhat quiet, but after a while, she really saw it pick up,” said Yates. “That’s why we’re in the need of raising funds for another outreach director. We knew that even before the pandemic.”
Yates adds though fundraising has slowed, they hoped to add another position and more volunteers to help end sex trafficking in the capital city.
So, what does social media have to do with sex trafficking and how can you keep your children safe?
Yates recommends parents continue to check their children’s phones and apps for safety and educate them on what is okay and not okay to share online.

“I can say one of the apps that we’ve discovered most recently is called Onlyfans, and that’s an app where you can send photos and videos of a lot of things,” said Yates. “But what’s happening are the young girls and women are starting to be pulled into the sexual exploitation or sex trade through sending videos, photos of themselves and being paid for it.
You have every right to look at your son or daughter’s phone and you should do it frequently, and it’s not that you don’t trust them it’s because you love them.”
Yates adds though fundraising has slowed, they hoped to add another position and more volunteers to help end sex trafficking in the capital city.
“Honestly, stereotyping, you know, in Lincoln, people say well there’s a certain area of town where there’s sex trafficking,” said Yates. “No it’s everywhere, you know, or there’s a certain demographic, that’s being trafficked no, it’s everyone. I’ll never forget hearing the chief of police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin say ‘They’re not looking for the street smart girls, they’re looking for your daughter.’”
He says in this pandemic, trafficking awareness is not to scare you but to help the community protect yourself and the ones you love.




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