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SD Human Trafficking Cases Rise In 2016 According To New Data


Data gathered from the National Human Trafficking Hotline shows the number of reported human trafficking cases in South Dakota increased from 14 in 2015 to 19 in 2016.

Experts say these numbers reflect a growing transparency on the issue, but that more efforts are needed to educate the public on how to recognize and help victims of human trafficking.

Shana  Cerny is an assistant professor of occupational therapy at USD. Cerny, whose research includes human trafficking, says the report’s numbers don’t really surprise her.

For Cerny, the data proves that officials are doing a better job of identifying victims of human trafficking. She says in South Dakota, support services and increased youth education are helping to raise awareness.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a long way to go in the fight to end it. Cerny says a multi tier issue like human trafficking needs a multidisciplinary approach, which includes prevention, removal of victims and recovery.

“I think large scale, we will never be able to actually eradicate trafficking unless the demand for sex for money is decreased, and that is going to take kind of a whole culture shift, we need to really value human life and what that all entails,” says Cerny.

Cerny says South Dakota still remains behind other states when it comes to certain human trafficking legislation. She says the 2017 state legislature is debating the approval of House Bill 1118, which would eliminate the need to prove the use of coercion or force in the human trafficking of minors.

Cerny says a similar law is already in effect in 48 states.