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Speaker Ann Quinn from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension explained why human trafficking is on the rise, including a seemingly endless supply of victims, many of them young. Others are in the country illegally and speak little English. They are ashamed and terrified to notify authorities, she said.
Victims’ reluctance to come forward is a major problem in prosecuting pimps. “We don’t have a lot of women out there saying, ‘Help me, I’m a prostituted victim,’ ” she said.
Kristi Masser attended because she has three preteens and was concerned for their safety. “One of the things I’m most interested in is hearing about the social media and things to be aware of,” she said. “You think you’re on top of things but things are changing so rapidly. It’s nice to hear from a professional.”
Daryn Kral, a computer forensics expert from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department, was that professional. Many parents have no idea that their kids can get online from their iPod or by accessing a smartphone app, he said.
He discussed warning signs that kids might be involved with cyberbullying and shared details of how online predators groom kids. By the time predators meet them in person, kids often trust the adult completely, he said.
Seurer said the department started conducting trainings about sex trafficking several years ago, but technology changes so rapidly that it’s hard to keep up.
He emphasized that the best means of prevention is citizens’ awareness, along with partnerships with community groups, including branches of law enforcement and social-service nonprofits. “We have 28,000 people in Savage and 28,000 sets of eyes,” he said. “That partnership is what got us here today.”
Erin Adler • 952-746-3283