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Numbers show rise in human trafficking involving boys

Posted at 4:22 AM, Jun 10, 2019

STUART, Fla.-- Abigail Roebas said she's vigilant as she monitors her son's social media and cellphones. One message caught her eye.

"He received a text message from a young woman who was naked except for bikini bottoms on his cellphone saying, 'do you remember me? Do you remember this? Do you want to meet?' " she recalled.

She told her son to delete the message and ignore it. But after attending an awareness meeting on human trafficking, she said she knows better.

"I didn't think much of it at the time but after going to this awareness meeting all these red flags and alarms started going off," she said. She learned it could be a trafficking attempt.

Lynne Barletta is the founder of Catch the Wave of Hope,an organization that aims to stop human trafficking. She said new numbers from the United Nations point to the importance of being vigilant, especially with your sons.

"There is a definite uptick in the number of male victims of human trafficking. So between 2006 and 2016, there is an increase from 16 percent to 52 percent," she said.

Barletta wants to alert parents to the different ways traffickers will target boys versus girls.

"They'll use money with boys. Boys like to make money; they'll offer them money or a job or they will offer them sex," said Barletta. "With girls it might be designer clothes, it might be new shoes or travel, something that meets their dreams of deep level of need for love and attention."

These are tactics a local mother is now grateful to know.

"Now I see how they can get to boys," said Roebas.