DULUTH, MN-- Let's stop sex trafficking. That is the message advocates and members of the Duluth Trafficking Awareness Task Force brought forth in a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
Those in attendance said more education needs to be available when it comes to sex trafficking, especially in schools.
They say more children and teens need to be educated on what grooming is.
Grooming is when a predator befriends any person with the intent of exchanging gifts for sexual activity or content.
In a Minnesota state survey given out to 9th and 11th-grade students in 2019, 5,000 students said they traded sex for something of value.
Most of those students were part of the indigenous community, according to the survey.
Those on the panel say indigenous people are often targets, as they can be passed off as multiple races by perpetrators.
Many MMIW victims don't come forward, as they feel the system further victimizes what has been done to them.
"It's re-victimizing to get on the stand. Getting on the stand puts them in danger from their trafficker or their trafficker's family or friends. There are so many things that come into play when it comes to trafficking survivors not feeling safe in the justice system," said Jessica Smith, an MMIW advocate.
This is one reason why the group says they are pushing to create an MMIW office to provide ongoing advocacy and education on the MMIW epidemic and sex-trafficking.
If you or someone you know is a victim of any sex-crime, here is a list of resources:
StrongHearts Native HelpLine 1-844-7NATIVE (762-8483)
National Indigenous Women's Resource Center Toll-Free 1-855-649-7299
PAVSA Duluth 24/7 HelpLine 218-726-1931
Mending the Sacred Hoop 1-888-305-1650
Fond du Lac Human Services 218-348-1817