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New Mexico is raising awareness about sex trafficking

Photo: Pixabay

The New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department is joining forces with police and the state attorney general's office to create a child safety strike force.

The strike force will protect children in the state who could be victims of sex trafficking.

The first training session to raise awareness about sex trafficking of children in New Mexico was held on Thursday.

The Children, Youth, and Families Department is working with the state attorney general's office to provide better training and resources to stop sex trafficking from happening.

Monique Jacobson ;is the cabinet secretary of the Children, Youth, and Families Department.

“When it comes to keeping our children safe, it takes all of us. There's no one agency that can do it alone,” Jacobson said.

She said human trafficking happens every day in New Mexico.

“We’re just trying to make sure that the people who are interacting with our children every day know this is a potential issue in their community, know the signs to look out for and know what to do if they think or fear that it may be occurring to a child they’re talking with,” Jacobson said.

The training stems from a case involving a 7-year-old-girl who was allegedly prostituted by relatives.

The state attorney general’s office filed a criminal complaint against CYFD and law enforcement agencies for not investigating and documenting 20 referrals of child abuse involving the girl.

Parents in Las Cruces are hopeful about the new efforts.

“Right now, the CYFD workers -- I’ve worked with them. They’re overworked. They have an overload of cases in just their own load and so, if that’s what’s gonna happen, then they need to start hiring more people,” Alex Sanchez said.

Jacobson said it’s important for people in the community to look out for signs of abuse.

She said every report will now lead to an investigation.

“It’s an area that I think people are just starting to realize how much it does occur in our state. It’s absolutely an area where we have to do better,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson said CYFD plans to conduct training in every city throughout the state.

Next week, the training will be in Albuquerque.

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