SAN ANTONIO - Children are exploited and sold for sex, even in Bexar County. Experts say runaways are the prime targets.
"There's a broken home, there's strife in the home, there could be sexual abuse, physical abuse, there are problems at that home, I'm talking about serious problems. I'm not talking about girls doing just what they want to do and they leave and run into the arms of these traffickers," said Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood.
The Bexar County District Attorney's Office has a task force made up of two prosecutors, an investigator, and advocates who focus solely on human and sex trafficking.
Since its creation in 2013, the DA's team has secured 10 convictions and currently has approximately 70 open cases.
It's a tough job because LaHood says that the victims don't always cooperate.
"They don't believe there's anything for them outside of that world that they're in and they're stuck in this world of sex trafficking and human trafficking. But they're stuck inside in their mind first before that," said LaHood, who also noted that traffickers use apps and social media sites to find their victims, lure them away, then force them to stay. "They work on the mindset of these girls, 'You're worthless, I'm the only one who gives you worth, I'm the one protecting you, you owe me back, I saved you from your situation.'"
LaHood says that parents can stop this.
"Be involved in your kid's life, don't be their friend," LaHood said.
The DA says that parents should know the passwords to their child's social media accounts and use them, plus understand how the apps work on their electronic devices.
He also said that parents should be aware of changes in their child's school attendance and their appearance. Do they have unexplained injuries or new clothes, purses, or manicures?
These are all warning signs that your child could be a victim of a trafficker.
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