Human trafficking is impacting every county across Wisconsin.
On Saturday morning, a local non-profit group called Grateful Girls held a summit to teach children how to protect themselves and recognize the signs of a predator.
Founder Chandra Cooper organized the summit called "Stay Out the Game 101" -- she said the best way to protect children against sex-trafficking is to educate and empower them. She said the way most predators lure children is through a slow and manipulative process, first starting by simply talking, then moving on to buying gifts and gaining trust.
"Then from there, it can go into sex and then from there they say, oh have sex with a friend of mine or a cousin of mine," said Cooper. "Then they are selling the children. It's that simple. Some people think as human trafficking as "oh they are going to steal the child and lock them up and throw them in the basement. It can be as simple as a next door neighbor who is a predator, and that person is attempting to lure a child through manipulation."
During the summit, the children learned ways to safeguard themselves both mentally and physically through self-defense classes. Summit speakers also shared their stories on how to detect verbal and physically abusive behavior.
"We have to remember it's not just girls and boys that are impacted. The families are affected as well," said Erica Mitchell, volunteer.
According to the Human Trafficking Hotline since June of 2018, there have been 64 reported cases of human trafficking in Milwaukee. Twenty-two of those cases involved minors.