TRINITY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - CASA of Trinity, San Jacinto, and Walker counties has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. They are preparing for a conference that will shine a light on children being exploited.
Houston or Dallas are some places you might imagine child exploitation taking place on a regular basis.
"You know, so many times when we think about sex trafficking, we see it as an urban or immigrant program," said Katie McMahon, the CASA Trinity County Volunteer Supervisor.
Rural East Texas counties are not off limits for human trafficking.
"The person doesn't want anyone to know, and the secrecy is used to hide the operation," said Chief Steven Jones, of the Trinity Police Department.
"I didn't realize it was an issue, and I work in child welfare," McMahon said.
McMahon said the conference will be held to shed light on the issue and the impact of human trafficking on our community.
"Trafficking is defined as any commercial sex act by a child for anything of monetary value," McMahon said.
Local law enforcement will be on a panel to offer their perspectives.
"Some people don't realize that what they are trapped in they can get out of ... that lifestyle, and they're scared," Jones said.
McMahon said the Internet and social media have taken predators from recruiting from the streets to recruiting from the comfort of a living room.
"The Internet is just this huge recruiting ground for predators," McMahon said.
McMahon said knowing the warning signs and dangers of human trafficking might help to prevent it, but acknowledging it's here is the first step.
"We've seen it here in Trinity County, Walker, San Jacinto, and Houston County. It's everywhere," McMahon said.
McMahon said the group of children with the highest risk of being exploited are those who have been in the child welfare system at some point.
The "Spotlight on Exploitation" will happen Saturday, February 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It will be held at the Alpha Omega Academy in Huntsville. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spotlight-on-exploitation-tickets-21046330140