LEHI, Utah (ABC4) — With all the recent talk of anti-human trafficking efforts, the Lehi City Police Department shared information with the public about how these horrible crimes affect those living in Utah, and in Lehi especially.
The department’s post began by mentioning the controversy surrounding the Sound of Freedom movie that was recently released in theaters.
“Recently there was quite the controversy about the movie Sound of Freedom. This post isn’t to weigh in on the controversy, that isn’t our place,” it stated. However, the department said it did want to highlight this “very real” problem and what local law enforcement is doing about it.
“We are not insulated from the heinous crimes associated with human trafficking, it is in our city as well,” police said.
The department released data from 2022-2023 to illustrate how the problem affects Utahns, and Lehi residents in particular.
Over the past year, police report 526 reports of child abuse, 27 arrests for child abuse by the Lehi City Police Department alone, 4 adults and 10 juveniles arrested for Child Sexual Abuse, 8 cases involving children being sexually exploited or CSAM found, 3 arrests for possessing or manufacturing CSAM, and 1 local child rescued.
In the state of Utah, the ICAC Task Force has 206 active cases, 63 arrests, and 31 enticements of minor cases.
Lehi authorities then reported there are over 350,000 children missing in the nation annually, about 30% of whom are estimated to be trafficked. The human trafficking industry is projected to make over $9.5 billion in the U.S. annually.
The department said it has four investigators that work with “deplorable crimes” such as child pornography, now known as Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), and human trafficking. Authorities said these investigators also work as part of the Federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
This task force recently conducted an operation called Operation Digital Siege arresting 19 people in the state of Utah, one of which lived in Lehi.
How to keep kids safe
As part of the post, authorities touched on what digital apps are most commonly used by sex offenders to find victims. They say Snapchat, Omegle, Instagram, and Discord are the most common.
They also reported Snapchat, Instagram, Discord, Kik, and Dropbox were the most common applications used for sharing CSAM.
Other helpful information includes safety tips for messaging people online. According to the anti-human trafficking organization Love146, it’s best not to trust the default privacy settings, always have an exit plan on how to block or report someone who makes you uncomfortable, stay in safe places online and follow your gut, and tell someone if you ever feel uncomfortable.
In addition, when messaging a stranger you should be careful of certain phrases such as “Let’s go private,” “Are you alone?” “Send me a face pic,” or “What’s your number, text me.”
For additional internet safety tips, click here for resources and videos to help both youth and adults.