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Social media tips to prevent human trafficking

Experts urge parents to recognize the signs
Posted at 3:52 PM, Jul 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-16 21:19:20-04

Human trafficking isn't an easy topic to talk about, but an important one. Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network, or SAATURN, says there are risk factors on social media that parents should be aware of.

"A lot of parents just don't really understand or know what it is, and also aren't aware that this is going on in our community, as well as communities across the nation," Sheila Kembel with SAATURN said.

Kembel and an undercover Tucson Police detective held a social media 101 class on Saturday to show how online profiles can play a role in sex trafficking.

They say kids and teens can be easily duped when they talk to people they don't know online. 

"They think they know them, but you can be anybody you want to be on social media and so I think that really escalates then that risk to become a victim of some sort."

The International Labor Organization estimates there are nearly 21 million human trafficking victims around the world. Kembel says the best thing you can do for yourself and your kids is to be aware.

Locally, SAATURN says south Tucson has a high volume of street prostitution and escorts are working in clubs as dancers. TPD says 80 to 85 percent of sex trafficking cases start from juveniles being targeted on social media. 

SAATURN says both awareness and the number of human trafficking cases is up. 


  • Poor health and inability to seek care for health concerns
  • Visible injuries such as bruises, scars, or burns
  • Visible tattoos that could be branding marks
  • Unable to leave their home or work without approval
  • Lying about online activities
  • Calls/texts from strangers
  • Going missing from home or have requests to be picked up from places they have no reason to be at
  • New, atypical friends or dating older people


  • National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-373-7888 or text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733
  • National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 1-800-THE-LOST

SAATURN is holding a healthy relationships workshop for youth who are at least 13-years-old on Saturday, July 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. To RSVP, contact Sheila Kembel at

Another social media training session will be held on Saturday, August 25 from 10 a.m. to noon at 1825 E. River Road, #201.


Human Trafficking, a KGUN 9 Special Presentation

Inside look: Tucson Police Department's Human Trafficking Unit

 Fighting human trafficking in hotels and motels