An international organization fighting human sex trafficking is telling people in South Dakota they do not need to live abroad to face and fight the crime.
As they stood before students in a Watertown health class Thursday, Jon and Chrissy Espy told stories of brothels with trafficking victims inside. They also told students human trafficking happens in communities without one of those down the street.
"Just because we can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. So we would love for everybody to just be aware of it and get active," Chrissy Espy said.
The Espys run SWAT Ministries, a non-profit organization designed to fight trafficking.
They asked Watertown students to look for suspicious activity and report it, protect themselves by cleaning up social media accounts and understand that the crime does exist in South Dakota.
"This is probably one of the first times I've ever heard about it in South Dakota," student Adam De Jong said.
"To know that it happens here is kind of surprising and you don't really expect it," student Anni Cummings said.
Along with the international guests, local leaders fighting trafficking asked kids to beware.
Jenna Moffatt is an outreach specialist for the Watertown Initiative to Prevent Sex Trafficking. She says stories of trafficking continue, so the effort to fight back needs to grow.
"There're various groups throughout the state and we're hoping to work with all of those groups to collaborate and share resources and share what works best to prevent sex trafficking," Moffatt said.
The state has been fighting trafficking through different means. A bill addressing the issue passed by large margins though the Legislature during the current session.
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