TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A Tucson organization has educated hundreds of students in the Tucson area about the growing issue of sex trafficking.
Sold No More was started by Lisa Hansen's father eleven years ago. Hansen is a survivor of sex trafficking herself—but she didn’t know that until years later.
“I've always recognized that there was a misidentification of my case,” said Hansen.
Hansen ran away twice when she was a teenager and during that time she said she was prostituted.
"[I was] a prostituted child on the streets, just doing what I was doing to get by. That started at the age of 14. Once that realization came, you know, and my dad just really started researching and trying to understand how big the issue might be and what was going on in Tucson,” explained Hansen.
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The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said in 2020, one out of every six children who was reported a missing runaway is likely a victim of sex trafficking.
The center's CEO, Melissa Snow explained children don’t have to leave their homes to be trafficked. It can happen at the hands of a family member and even online.
"Parents just being as involved in their social media life as they would be in their friend's life [and] knowing who those friends are. [Also,] knowing what social media sites [their kids] are engaged in playing games online," explained Snow. "Just being an active participant."
Snow explained it’s even happening at the hands of gangs looking to expand their forms of revenue.
With statistics like these—Sold No More—is going into classrooms to educate kids on the signs that someone might be trying or are trafficking them.
- Paying children for photos or “favors”
- Compliments speaking to the heart of the child
- Meeting up with a stranger
"We deal with survivors constantly. We have kids coming forward during our classroom presentations,“ said Hansen.
In fact, Hansen said she has already helped about one hundred students since presentations began in 2015.
The organization isn't stopping there. Hansen said Sold No More is training parent and child pairs to better identify trafficking.
"We talk about specific subjects that equip parents with the ability to see maybe if your child is showing signs [or] maybe if their child is being preyed upon online,” said Hansen.
Her ultimate goal is to raise awareness because she says the mental impacts have yet to be seen from sex trafficking-- specifically highlighting sexting used as a manipulation tool.
"We got to start connecting the dots here and how does this ecologically impacted our, our future generations, because the numbers just are going up they're not we're not slowing down we're seeing them," said Hansen.