Concern growing for sex trafficking in North Dakota, Cass County

Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff
Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff

(Fargo, ND) -- Watching what your children do online has always been preached, but local law enforcement says a recent up-tick in sex trafficking in the area is causing them to ask parents to practice more precautions.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office and North Dakota BCI's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force are both issuing warnings as more sex trafficking cases come across their desks then ever before.

"A lot of the cases we're seeing are related to children pornography or child sexual abuse material as we call it," said Detective Heather Haynes, who works at the Sheriff's Office and as a park of the ICAC task force. "Those cases are definitely on the rise, so the concern is yes people are possessing it and sharing it, but are they also offending. We’re definitely on track to do many more cases than we did last year as far as that’s concerned."

So how do you as a parent give guidance to your child when it comes to safety online? On WDAY Radio's The Coffee Club, Detective Haynes noted that requires conversations with the youngest internet users, and not just assuming that it won't ever happen to them.

"It's just extremely important to talk to your kids in general about the dangers of it," says Haynes. "You know I think a lot of people just have the mentality that something like that isn’t gonna happen to their family or their kids, but I mean the reality is that does happen more than you think."

Detective Haynes adds that conversations about the possible threats kids can see and run into online shouldn't just happen once.

"Continuously have the conversation of hey there’s people out there that aren’t good people and you just have to be careful," said Haynes. "And then also just monitoring what applications they’re using and being really involved in that piece of the puzzle as well."

To learn more about the ND BCI's ICAC program, click here.