May 1, 2019 | KAMC News
By Paige Pauroso
LUBBOCK, Texas — A recently published report from the Lubbock Area United Way said human trafficking in Lubbock is on the rise.
According to the report, there were 37 confirmed cases of trafficking in Lubbock, but they expect there were more cases that went unreported.
Now a new warning from United Way about the proximity of schools to suspected illegal massage businesses, which they said could have ties to human trafficking rings.
"This is just one aspect of sex trafficking, there are a lot of things connected to that," said Amanda McAfee, with Lubbock Area United Way. "It's just one aspect that we need to be aware of in our community."
The research and map is from Children at Risk. The organization used data from a popular online website for massage establishments where users can post sexually explicit reviews and search for sex in their local areas. Drawing on that data, Children at Risk found the businesses listed on that website and then estimated the distance from local schools.
CLICK HERE for Children at Risk's website and the full map.
United Way said parents should know about the locations nearby schools, because traffickers could use these locations to recruit potential victims.
"If those places are close to school, it's easy for those traffickers to connect to those school, connect to those kids, they have easy access," said McAfee. "We think about somebody who has been convicted of a child sexual assault, we know where they live, you can look it up online everyday. But this is not something you can look up online."
McAfee said the first goal of United Way is to keep people educated about ongoing issues in the community.
These businesses listed in the general locations do not have charges filed against them and are just suspected of illegal behavior according to online websites and research done by Children at Risk. It's unknown if Lubbock police are suspicious of any activity.
United Way encourages all parents to talk to their kids about risks and warning signs, regardless of where they go to school.