This school year has faced its share of challenges for Montana parents including a big decision to send their children back to the classroom or keep their students at home and continue remote learning.
Even if parents choose to have kids go back to the classroom, that doesn’t necessarily mean a more traditional setting of being at school all week long.
Block schedules so far have been the plan for several school districts, which puts partial remote learning back at home and devices in the hands of children.
It’s those idle times that parents, according to the Montana Department of Justice, need to be wary about, and the big concern is children going on sites that have chat rooms.
Andy Yedinak, who is the Human Trafficking Team Supervisor for the MT Department of Justice, says in those chat rooms predators could have access to children.
He also explained that Montana's small-town feeling of being safe can sometimes leave holes for parents to not take human or sex trafficking seriously.
The old saying "This just doesn’t happen here” doesn't necessarily apply here in the Treasure State.
Contrary to that saying, Yedinak says that cases of human trafficking do happen in the state and law enforcement agencies anticipate an increase in reported cases.
“From 2018 to 2019, we saw a 65.2% increases in our cases when it comes to human trafficking, and as a result of that we were able to rescue 17.6% more victims than what has been seen before, and I anticipate that in 2019 to the end of 2020, those numbers are probably going to go up,” Yedinak said.
For parents or anyone that is concerned and wants to report a crime but does not want to contact law enforcement, there is an option: the Polaris Project, which serves as an advocate for victims and those who want to make a report.
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Click here to visit the United States Human Trafficking Hotline website.