Julie (not her real name) is a 15-year-old runaway trying to survive. Coming from a broken home, she has no money, little education, no shelter and few if any real friends. She does, however, have her body, and unfortunately that has substantial value to many who are willing to exploit her. Predators who know that she is desperate for food and shelter “sell” her to “clients” willing to pay to use her body for their base sexual gratification.
Julie isn’t worried about homecoming or algebra like other teenagers. Julie is concerned about where her next meal is coming from and what her next “client” is going to do to her or make her do to him. Julie is worried about staying alive.
This is not a fictional story, nor is it based in a foreign country or New York or Los Angeles. This is a true story, based in Wisconsin where children all over the state are being bought and sold for the sex. Any child can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age or citizenship. Exploiters can lure a victim with an offer of basic necessities like food and clothing, but often the promise of attention, friendship, or a loving “relationship” is enough. Once they gain control, traffickers often resort to violence, intimidation, access to drugs, or psychological manipulation to trap the child in a life of prostitution.
There is no group of victims more vulnerable or more in need of law enforcement protection than these youth who are being sexually exploited. Utilizing the resources and expertise that exist in the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, can enhance law enforcement’s ability to identify and rescue child victims and hold their offenders accountable.
Learn more at J. B. Van Hollen’s Cap Times article: Child sex trafficking happens right here in Wisconsin.