Last year, more than 7,000 sex trafficking cases were reported to the National Human
Trafficking Hotline, including cases in Wisconsin.
Dr. Joy Ippolito stopped by Local 5 This Morning Wednesday to talk about the “WI, We Need to Talk” campaign to raise awareness of the growing problem in our community.
“We are still in the process of capturing data around the state but we know that this is an issue happening around Wisconsin and the Northeastern part of the state is no exception,” Dr. Ippolito said.
Right now, Wisconsin residents are being trafficked in our cities, our suburbs, our rural towns, and our Tribal communities and in most cases, it’s happening right in front of us, according to Dr. Ippolito.
In an effort to shed light on the issue of trafficking in Wisconsin, the Department of Children and
Families (DCF) has recently launched the “WI, We Need to Talk” public awareness campaign.
“We want parents and trusted adults who work with youth to understand that sex trafficking is happening in our communities all across the state,” Dr. Ippolito said. “We also want to prevent sex trafficking cases from occurring, so we want adults to have those open conversations with young people about what a healthy relationship should look like and how to know when someone may be taking advantage of them.”
Aimed at informing Wisconsin citizens about youth sex trafficking, the “WI, We Need to Talk”
campaign can help you recognize the warning signs of trafficking that could be taking place in your
community, and what you can do to help the young people who might be at risk.
“Sometimes the signs are subtle, but it’s important that parents know who their children are hanging out with. If they start to have a new group of friends or are evasive about who they are hanging out with, that can be a warning sign,” Dr. Ippolito said. “Or they may have an older boyfriend or girlfriend they don’t want to talk about. It’s definitely a red flag if a young person starts showing up with items you did not provide for them and know they could not afford on their own, such as a new smartphone, fancy clothes, or even getting their hair and nails done regularly.”
If you think someone you know is at risk, it’s important to talk to them and find out what may be going on. If someone is in immediate danger, you should call 9-1-1 or your local child welfare agency, as youth sex trafficking is a crime and DCF wants to be sure they can offer services to young people who need them. DCF has more general information on our campaign website WisconsinTalks.org and has also partnered with 2-1-1 Wisconsin, which can help connect people with local community resources.