Child sex trafficking increases online during the pandemic

TRI-CITIES, WA - Human trafficking affects people of all ages, including kids.

Tricia MacFarlan with Mirror Ministries said the vast majority of what they see in the Tri-Cities is family members trafficking their own kids.

As more people stay at home during the pandemic, Tricia also said there are more reports of child sexual abuse on the internet.

"So, the manipulation and the coercion is starting right there under parents noses and it is heartbreaking to see and it is really hard on the kids. It is hard on the families, as they try to regroup and find out," MacFarlan said.

MacFarlan said some ways to prevent this is to teach kids safe boundaries and guidelines online and in-person. If you don't know the person in-person, Tricia recommends not being friends with them online.

She also recommends building education with kids on strangers or "tricky people," including what safe adults do and what "tricky people" do.

MacFarlan said if someone seems to be a "tricky person," kids need to know which adults around them are safe to run to for help.

If you are interested in learning more about signs to watch for and ways to prevent kids being groomed online, Mirror Ministries offers community presentations. They also have a hotline number which is 509.212.9995.