Survivors of sex trafficking in Minnesota say better sex education could have helped prevent their exploitation and abuse.
A report released Monday, "Voices of Safe Harbor", used surveys and focus groups to reach more than seventy youth and older survivors.
Caroline Palmer of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, who worked on the report, said many young people reported that the sex education they received in school didn't match reality.
"Sometimes they get that in their families. A lot of times they don't," Palmer said. "So they just want a safe space where they can learn more about what consent looks like, what a healthy relationship looks like, and they just feel like they're not getting that."
The participants, who range in age from 12 to 46 years old, said they needed people to respond to their situation with empathy, patience and cultural competency.
Commissioner Marion Greene, whose "No Wrong Door" initiative in Hennepin County helped commission the study, said these voices are often hidden.
"These are voices that are marginalized in our community in various ways," Greene said. "A lot of it has to do with not listening and not paying attention and that's to me at the heart of it."
In 2014, Minnesota implemented a "Safe Harbor" law to treat minors involved in prostitution as victims rather than delinquents. The law applies to males, females and transgender youth.