Workshop focuses on child sex trafficking

(WOWT-TV image/file)
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The Children's Listening Place of Parkersburg has, in recent years, had to deal with potential child sex trafficking cases-at least on of which involved a would-be victim who had not reached adolescence.

"We have had a case in particular, that a very young elementary child was reached out to on social media, saying they were a modeling agency, and offering this child for nude picture, recalled Lisa Sutton, Executive Director. "Unfortunately, there was not a conviction, because the suspect became aware the child's parents became aware of it, and has deleted all their social media."

Wednesday and Thursday, juvenile officers and other service providers heard from experts in the law enforcement and social service fields.

A detective of 35 years from one of the nation's largest cities says it's a crime that's not easy to pin down.

"Trafficking is a crime that's hidden," says Cathy Delapaz of the Dallas Police Department. "Kids are made to look older, kids are hidden in motel rooms. So we're looking at ways to find those kids. We're looking at ways to effectively interview and talk to those kids."

Some of the victims are runaways. Others are the result of parents selling their kids to buy drugs. The buyers in those transactions had other reasons.

"We try to train kids on safe body touch," Sutton says, "we try to train the community on what you need to do to report when it comes to any kind of suspicion."

And, as with other crimes, the awareness of the public is important.