How to protect your child from sex trafficking predators in the suburbs

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A suburban mother says sex trafficking is happening in her community, and law enforcement says she's right.

"The reality is that our communities are changing, have changed and parents need to be in front of this issue," said Kelly Litvak.

Litvak, the founder and executive director of ChildProof America, has made it her mission to bring light to the dark world of child sex trafficking.

"This is absolutely not like the movie Taken. This is not somebody that's going to drive down the street and grab your child. This can be somebody that's sitting next to your child in science class."

The Katy mother says organized groups are infiltrating the safety net of the suburbs, targeting young girls in Katy, Kingwood, The Woodlands and Sugar Land.

"They lure young people into these environments and start them off by gaining their friendship and then introducing them to alcohol and drugs. The next thing you know, you end up in a different city and you don't know where you're at or how to get away," said Fort Bend Co. Pct. 3 Constable Wayne Thompson.

Thompson explains the people who lure these teens are called "groomers."

He says they blend into suburban life at schools, churches and even sports groups, in order to scout for young teens with vulnerabilities like going through a break-up, lack of friends or challenges at home.

Thompson says after befriending the teen and earning her trust, the groomer will divide the teen from her family and then use threats and blackmail to force the teen into sex trafficking.

He says parents should watch out for some signs of a teen being groomed. Signs can include a sudden new group of friends, using drugs or alcohol or acting very distant from parents.

"A spotter can get $150 in cash for a cell phone number of a vulnerable girl or target," said Litvak.

She calls it a hidden epidemic that can be stopped with knowledge.

Litvak says the number one age group for victims is 12 to 14 years old.
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