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North Dakota to Begin Child Sex Trafficking Education

North Dakota will be hosting educational seminars to help child welfare professionals aid child victims of sex trafficking. Credit: iStock
North Dakota will be hosting educational seminars to help child welfare professionals aid child victims of sex trafficking. Credit: iStock
December 7, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – Child sex trafficking continues to be a problem in North Dakota.

To help with that, the state's Department of Human Services will be co-hosting four free training sessions on the issue this month.

Starting next week, human trafficking experts will be talking with social workers, police and foster parents.

Shari Doe, director of North Dakota's Children and Family Services Division, says the idea is to help these professionals identify possible victims and how to get them the best help available.

"We need communities to be aware and to come together, so that we don't end up re-victimizing these youth as they try to go through our system," she stresses.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there have been at least 11 cases reported in the state this year. The majority of those involved one or more children, all female.

Nationally, almost 2,800 trafficking cases have been reported.

Doe says the push to do the training comes from a federal anti-trafficking law that Congress passed last year.

She also says it's difficult to put an exact number on how many children are being commercially exploited for sex in the state, but it is something government agencies are trying to resolve.

"A lot of our information is anecdotal, but one of the facets of this new law is for states to collect data on children that are being trafficked, so that nationally we will be able to get a handle on what kind of numbers we're looking at," she points out.

North Dakota has been making other changes to help victims of child sex trafficking.

Over the summer, state lawmakers approved a move to exempt minors from being charged with prostitution. And during a late November Senate hearing, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota blasted the website Backpage.com, which has become an Internet hotspot for sex trafficking.

Heitkamp has been asking that the website do more to keep traffickers from posting anonymous ads for sex.


Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND