East Texas first responders hoping to raise awareness about mino - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas first responders hoping to raise awareness about minor sex trafficking

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They call it a hidden epidemic.

"Most people just don't that this is going on," said Kimberly Dewitt.

Thursday teachers, social workers, nurses and other first responders spent the day learning about domestic minor sex trafficking and what they can do to stop it.

"Knowledge is key to stopping these guys," said Deena Graves, Founder Traffick 911.

The Lufkin Dream Center partnered with Traffick 911 and Assistant Attorney General Geoff Barr to raise awareness in the community to keep children safe.

Dream Center Founder Billie Jean Johnson says she has seen it firsthand.

"What we've seen at the dream center is it doesn't look like typically what we think of a child sex trafficking. It's not the pimp in the fur coat, it may be parents into drugs using their kids," said Johnson.

Traffick 911 founder Deena Graves says the life expectancy for children who are sex trafficked is seven years.

And Graves says Lufkin is a key area for trafficking with many high risk factors.

"We know they move these children all around and with your highways here coming together you're connected to Houston, Dallas and Shreveport it makes you a good location for it," said Graves.

Attendee Kimberly Dewitt says at Thursday's training she learned the warning signs such as; bruising, sudden change in clothing, and younger children with an older controlling person.

And says she hopes to take what she's learned and share it in hopes of protecting the children.

"We need to have that responsibility to have the information so we can do something with it when we see things happen," said Dewitt.

Because an educated community can potentially save lives

Officials say not to approach a suspected victim, traffickers or buyer but to gather as much information as you can and immediately call law enforcement with the gathered information.

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