Each year, thousands of young people worldwide become the victims of human trafficking, or modern day slavery. Some cases are starting to occur in urban areas of the United States. WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson visited Riverside High School on Milwaukee’s east side, where students wanted to learn more about the issue.
It’s the final hour of the school day and five dozen students have gathered in the library of Riverside High School, listening to Maggie Wynne. She’s director of anti-trafficking at the U. S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Her office rescues victims of human trafficking and prosecutes those responsible.
She says the crime started overseas, but in the past decade, has become more prevalent in the U. S. She says traffickers often approach teenagers and then things can happen quickly.“Say you’re a 14-year-old girl and some 22-year-old man drives up his car and starts giving you compliments and telling you how good you look and things like that. And, you start thinking this is really cool. I’ve got a cool boyfriend. He likes me and he loves me and I love him and then you start a sexual relationship. And then the boyfriend starts saying well, if you love me you’ll do some things for me, and then they start making demands. All of a sudden the demands turn into, well if you want to keep getting these nice things you have to bring in some money,” Wynne says.
Wynne says that’s how teenagers are forced into prostitution, child pornography and hard labor. Sometimes they’re flown to other countries for arranged marriages.
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