PHOENIX — Scrolling through TikTok, a popular video catches your eye on the "For You Page." It's a video of a father showing a zip tie hanging from the back door of his daughter's car.
This is the third night in a row his daughter has come home with the strange cord on her car. He alleges it's one of the new ways sex traffickers identify girls who are easy targets for sex trafficking.
While the video is disturbing, is this video circulating on social media showing a new danger for women in Arizona?
Sgt. Philip Krynsky of the Phoenix Police Department said this type of targeting isn't happening here in the Valley, but sex trafficking is a problem and social media is a breeding ground for it.
"Currently that's not a trend we're seeing here in Phoenix, but that doesn't mean trends can't travel,” he explained. “What we're commonly seeing right now is the grooming that's going into these types of circumstances with possible victims. This would include social media, gaming sites, dating apps on their computers and on their tablets and even on their phones.”
The department is working with other agencies and the state as a whole. Police said the average age of someone trafficked is just 13 years old, but no one is exempt.
While efforts to fight this problem are already underway, even more action is being taken. The state is allocating $10 million toward victim resources through the Department of Emergency Assistance.
"We know we had close to 200 kids just in Maricopa County sex trafficked between 2018 and 2020 and 2,000 adults trafficked in that same time period," Maria Fuentes with the Arizona Human Trafficking Council said. "To help develop victims center, multi-disciplinary programs that will increase our ability throughout the state to help combat, prevent and support victims of human trafficking."
As agencies work to take a victim-sensitive approach, they all share the same message about open conversations with your kids and watching for signs.
"Watch for changes in behavior, clothing, gifts or gift cards that are coming out of nowhere," Krynsky said. "Those can be telling signs."
"It's up to all of us to be educated on the signs and to have and continue to develop the tools need to help support those who are vulnerable and those who are suffering in this circumstance," Fuentes added.
For more information on how you can help prevent sex trafficking, visit https://www.sextraffickinghelp.com/.
Up to Speed
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.