Wisconsin AG asks residents to be aware of potential human trafficking amid pandemic

AG Josh Kaul
File photo

MADISON, Wis. — State Attorney General Josh Kaul is asking Wisconsin residents to watch out for potential human trafficking during the pandemic.

A statement on Thursday from the Wisconsin Department of Justice said social and physical isolation and economic insecurity contribute to the susceptibility of victims, and that human traffickers are using it to their advantage.

The DOJ statement asked parents to be aware of increased online exploitation activity. In the first quarter of 2020, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children became aware of predators openly discussing the pandemic as an opportunity to entice unsupervised children into producing sexually explicit material. The organization also experienced an explosion in reporting to their tipline, from both the public and electronic service providers.

“The Wisconsin Department of Justice continues to fight human trafficking, coordinating with local law enforcement and victim advocates to protect communities and support survivors,” Kaul said. “We must keep working to eradicate this horrendous crime.”

During the summer travel season, DOJ is working to educate members of the convenience store industry about human trafficking. They’re partnering with the Wisconsin State Patrol and Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association for the project.

Store owners are encouraged to place the National Human Trafficking Hotline number in areas such as restrooms, where victims are likely to see it.

If you know someone who needs help, call 911. You can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline number at 1-888-373-7888.

Crime victim services are available on the DOJ’s human trafficking website at befreewisconsin.com.

The DOJ press release said July 30, 2020, is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.