A silent epidemic is infecting people all across the United States and even right here in Wisconsin. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that happens in many ways and is becoming increasingly more prevalent each year.

In 2016, Wisconsin saw a 17 percent increase in cases of human trafficking from 2015. My question for lawmakers regarding this increase is: What is being done to protect those at risk? Data shows that specific minority groups have a higher risk to become victims of human and sex trafficking including girls, minors in poverty, or minors with unstable lifestyle conditions.

This problem is going undetected, right under our noses. In 2011, a pediatrician at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center reported that most of the girls there had been victims of some types of domestic minor sex trafficking. Many minor victims do not report the abuse because they are being manipulated into silence by people who have power over them.

Awareness must be spread about this issue so fewer minors fall into the traps set out by predators. Wisconsin’s lawmakers must create laws that protect minors by preventing traffickers from reaching these vulnerable young people.

Olivia Swain, Verona

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