ST. CLOUD -- A new public service video gives an inside look at how undercover officers with the Central Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force work to catch men soliciting children in online chat rooms.

The video is being released to bring about awareness to parents on how kids are being groomed into these sex acts.

Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall says our kids aren't being snatched up off the street. They are being targeted in online chat rooms and online apps...

They'll be sitting at the Xbox playing games with people from, wherever, like we do now. We stream games.  And, they'll break through on that. And, they'll start talking to them about "hey how's it going at home?" Just to get your average kid to say "you know my parents just don't understand me and I'll never get out of here, and I'm in this small town." And, that's how it starts.  We see it over and over and over again.

Kendall says this video is to help parents and community members understand exactly what is going on in our communities and in our homes.

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The Central Minnesota Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaborative effort with multiple law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and victim advocacy groups. It was formed in 2017 to combat sex trafficking. Child solicitation has become more prevalent since then.

They want parents to get involved and pay attention to what their kids are doing online and who they are chatting with. Look for changes in your child's behavior, monitor friend groups, and watch for new clothes or other gifts that sex buyers may be giving them as part of the grooming process.

The task force is also looking to book appointments with parent and community groups to help train them on what to look for and strategies to stay on top of your child's online activity. Training sessions will include the full-length sex trafficking video released by the CMHTTF.


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