Sex trafficking comes up in Southern Utah several times a year, but it seems the tactics are always changing and creating new challenges.  

As a young woman, it's important to be aware of the dangers that present themselves when walking from your car to your home, to work, or really any time you go out. Children are unfortunately the most common targets in sex trafficking and missing girls in Southern Utah tend to be assumed sex trafficked often.  

The National Sex Trafficking Tool Kit said that over 50 percent of runaways are sex trafficked. Gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class are all factors, but anyone can be trafficked.  

A truly frightening thing is that sex traffickers can work in groups. I have heard some of my friends notice white chalk on their cars or clothing articles left on hoods or homes. This is a way to tag a target and is definitely a sign of a group.  

About Traffickers: 

  • They often share the same nationality as their victims. 
  • Victims are commonly forced to lure others and can seem to be traffickers. 
  • The majority of traffickers are men.  
  • Almost 50 percent of victims knew their traffickers. 
  • The average age for traffickers seems to be 28. 

General places seem to be hotspots for sex trafficking:

The National Tool Kit did a six-year analysis and 56.6 percent of trafficking activities are done at hotels/motels. Fake massage businesses are also a prime location. St. George has had its history with those.  

Residential brothels from apartments, houses, brothels, and trailers are also common. Truck stops are a prime location for traffickers to sell their victims and an easy way to transport them. 

Recruitment Tactics: 

  • Love bombing, buying expensive gifts, turning violent suddenly, false promises. 
  • “Helping” runaways. 
  • Gang pressure. 
  • Isolating the victims from friends and family. 
  • Bait and Switch. Traffickers will lend money and tell the victim they don’t need to pay it back. Later, they will force the victim into prostitution for payment. 
  • Targeting those with disabilities. 
  • Grooming children. 

The issue is very prevalent in Southern Utah. Make sure your child is with someone fully trusted, be aware of your surroundings, and report anything to the local authorities immediately. 

Stay safe. 

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