TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Citizens of Tyler gathered to learn how they can join the fight to end sex exploitation and human trafficking.
A panel of elected officials and the FBI gave details on the crisis in East Texas.
The first step in combating a problem of this size takes solutions at start in your own backyard.
“They are looking for someone who is kidnapped and thrown into the back of a van,” said Braden. “But it’s actually the girl sitting next to your daughter in class. They are girls from our own communities, our own schools.”
A room filled with the people who are devoting each day on raising awareness, starting as young as middle school.
“Our organization is actually focused on prevention and education,” said Donna Frazier, president of Rescue and Restore. “We have developed this to go into middle school, both public and private.”
Explaining the dangers of social media, and how to talk to your child about online predators.
“We talk about social media,” said Frazier. “And a section about the teenage brain because their brains are not fully developed, yet they are more easily manipulated.”
All in hopes of informing the public.
“A lot of them will be shocked to learn how pervasive this has come; it’s not something in San Francisco, it’s here in East Texas," said U.S. Congressman Louie Gohmert.
While social media is a breeding ground for those taking advantage, what many don’t know is the role pornography plays in fueling these crimes.
“Nobody is out of the area of temptation,” Gohmert added. “It’s just something we have got to bring awareness to, and hopefully, we can save some lives that can be spent doing great things.”
So, while law enforcement continues the fight, and organizations raise awareness, they say the solution starts with you.
“We need to have an all out war on human trafficking,” said Larry Smith, Smith County sheriff. “We are missing it if we aren’t informed.”
Nonprofit Liberty Task Force in Tyler is hosting a series on combating pornography addiction. For more information on the faith-based program, visit the organization’s website for more details.