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Human trafficking seeing jump during the pandemic

Attorney General Josh Kaul is advising residents to be alert to potential human trafficking during the current health crisis. Social and physical isolation, and economic insecurity, contribute to the susceptibility of victims and human traffickers are using it to their advantage.

To help bring awareness, World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was July 30.

“The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to fight human trafficking, coordinating with local law enforcement and victim advocates, to protect communities and support survivors,” said Kaul. “We must keep working to eradicate this horrendous crime.”

Commercial sexual exploitation of adults and children can also occur online. Parents especially should be aware of increased online exploitation activity.

In the first quarter of 2020, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), became aware of predators openly discussing the pandemic as an opportunity to entice unsupervised children into producing sexually explicit material. The NCMEC also experienced an explosion in reporting to their CyberTipline from public and electronic service providers.

The DOJ is also partnering with the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (WPMCA), and Wisconsin State Patrol, to educate members of the convenience store industry during the summer travel season. This project aims to increase understanding of the signs of human trafficking among owners and workers who are in a unique position to recognize, and report it.

Store owners are encouraged to place the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in areas such as restrooms, where victims are likely to see it.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 911. The National Human Trafficking Hotline also assists victims and accepts tips, 24/7, at (888) 373-7888.

For help finding a local service provider, reach out to the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services or visit the service directories on the DOJ’s human trafficking website at BeFree-

Learn how to identify key signs on the website and if you suspect human trafficking, contact law enforcement.