Organizations join together to help prevent human trafficking in Grand Island

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - In the city of Grand Island, 60 people a month are trafficked for sex. That's why local organizations are banding together to help prevent it.

Families who have a loved one fall into human trafficking say they never would have expected it.

“Oh no and it's just horrible,” Vivk Buckman, grandmother of a trafficked teen said. “You know when she's gone and you don't hear from her, you don't know what's happening. She was arrested for prostitution with her pimp. “

Buckman's granddaughter is 15 and serving time in jail. She says her granddaughter had a tough home life and would often run away. That's when she got in contact with an older man who gave her clothes and a place to sleep.

This is an example of how human trafficking begins, not by kidnapping.

“We know that trafficking takes place through a grooming process,” Outreach and Prevention Coordinator VISTA Amber Smith said. “It looks very similar to domestic violence relationships and that's really what we want to portray is how to protect our youth and our vulnerable populations from becoming victims of this grooming process.”

The Grand Island Coalition on Trafficking is working to bring nonprofits together to serve a common purpose; prevent trafficking and help those who have gone through it.

Grand Island is a big hub for trafficking being so close to the interstate and being big enough for people to discreetly purchase sex.

“Lots of people don't really understand really how serious this is and all kids could be involved,” Buckman said.

The coalition aims to educate hotel and motel workers to spot someone being trafficked and how to safely report it. As well as teach the community about what they can do to put a stop to trafficking.