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Noem Hosts Summit Against Sex Trafficking

February 24, 2014, 6:12 PM by Brady Mallory

Noem Hosts Summit Against Sex Trafficking
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Something as seemingly harmless as a Facebook compliment could be a predator's attempt to lure you into the world of sex trafficking.  That is why Representative Kristi Noem is encouraging parents to talk to their children about the role social media plays in human sex trafficking.

"I've talked to my daughters who have conversed with people on Facebook that they don't know very well.  Our teens do that every day on a daily basis and it makes them very vulnerable to people that may not be safe for them to be around," Noem said.

This was just one topic at the Justice Against Slavery Summit, hosted by Noem.  The discussion brought law enforcement officers, community advocates, researchers and others together to look at this on-going issue in South Dakota communities.  One of the speakers gave the audience a look at what she went through as a victim herself.

"Beatings and rapes, by numerous people.  Men and women included.  It's dangerous for me to talk, because my perpetrators are still out there," Kerry Stephenson said. 

Stephenson is now a legal advocate for fellow survivors.

Unfortunately, she is not alone.  Noem, who has supported anti-trafficking legislation, hosted this discussion because she knows this type of sex crime continues to threaten communities.

"I don't think any mom thinks when they send their kids out the door in the morning that they could potentially be drawn into sex trafficking or human trafficking," Noem said.

Moving forward, Noem said the summit's big goal is to create more shelters, better laws and more support systems for survivors of human sex trafficking.

"That's the biggest problem we have, is once someone has been drawn into this industry, how do we draw them back out and help them have successful family lives and get back to pursuing the American dream," Noem said.

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