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County joins efforts to help youth vulnerable to sex trafficking | Crime

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County joins efforts to help youth vulnerable to sex trafficking
Crime, News, Politics

Funds, coordination key topics in conversation on ending the crime    

Dane County is taking steps to raise awareness on the issue of human sex trafficking.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said Thursday that the county is focused on coordinated education efforts and resources for homeless and runaway youth.

The 2013 county budget includes $30,000 to replace recently eliminated federal funds that support outreach services to homeless and runaway youth, a group that youth advocates cautioned are susceptible to trafficking.

"At the very base, this problem exists because there's a demand for people to buy sex," Parisi said. "People need to realize if they're going to go out and purchase someone's body to use, that is not a victimless crime."

According to information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as many as 2.8 million children run away each year, and one-third become entangled in underground prostitution or pornography within 48 hours of living on the streets.

To increase communication and coordination throughout county services, Parisi’s administration has also asked the Dane County Commission on Sensitive Crimes to assess existing resources and how they can be best used to identify and help sexually exploited youth.

Parisi has also asked human services staff to participate in a community trafficking education summit planned for April to bring together local law enforcement, health care professionals, advocates, and human service professionals to develop a coordinated trafficking response plan.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said it is imperative authorities in the county coordinate with the groups helping people at risk of sexual exploitation on trafficking response plans.

"Human trafficking is a complex crisis that will require continued examination of issues such as poverty, parenting, addiction, and criminal thinking," Ozanne said.

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