November 23, 2014

Nebraska group reaches out to exploited teenagers

Often considered a problem somewhere else, such as an exotic Asian location, sex-trafficking has crept into Nebraska.

Bob Burton with the “I’ve Got a Name” Foundation in Lincoln suggests it is more widespread than many Nebraskans realize. Burton says the foundation is attempting to both raise awareness and battle the problem.

“We had interviews with girls who have been sexually exploited. We share those stories with people and it’s a call to action,” Burton tells Kevin Thomas on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln. “It’s a call to let people know that it is here and that we have people who are trying it fight it.”

Burton says he has heard some horrific stories about how teen-agers, especially girls, have been taken advantage of during difficult circumstances.

“When we started to talk to people who really knew more about kids that are running the streets and kids who are most vulnerable we realized that it was quite a few kids that are either being exploited or engaging in what they call couch-surfing; either being sold for sex, sold for drugs. In some instances, we had boyfriends selling girls for tattoos,” Burton says.

Burton says the “I’ve Got a Name” Foundation has joined with other groups to open “The Bay” at 20th and Y in Lincoln for at-risk teen-agers to gather in safety. It also will provide counseling and guidance for teens.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln conference earlier in the month focused on the problem of human trafficking.

Kevin Thomas and Jane Monnich of KLIN contributed to this story.