Social media is increasingly being exploited to contact, recruit and sell children for sex, according to a study by The University of Toledo Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute. The study, which was requested by the Ohio Attorney General's Human Trafficking Commission, reveals how traffickers quickly target and connect with vulnerable children on the Internet through social media. Through a series of 16 in-depth interviews by the institute's staff and student interns with knowledgeable members of Ohio law enforcement, judges, direct service providers, advocates and researchers who engaged with victims who were trafficked online, the study outlines how traffickers connect to vulnerable youth online, groom the children to form quicker relationships, avoid detection, and move the connections from online to in-person. Social media helps to mask traditional cues that alert individuals to a potentially dangerous person.
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