TOPEKA (KSNT) – A local advocacy center is sharing its knowledge on how to protect children from human traffickers.

This comes in response to a Topeka woman’s civil lawsuit against a national rideshare company alleging it trafficked a 13-year-old girl across state lines to Nebraska where she was held against her will and sexually assaulted.

According to the Human Trafficking Institute, 449 people fell victim to human trafficking in the United States in 2021. Nearly 60% were minors.

LifeHouse Child Advocacy Center in Topeka helps children who have become victims of sexual and physical abuse or have witnessed violent crimes. Executive Director Kelly Durkin says there are steps parents and legal guardians can take to help protect their children from traffickers.

Experts recommend parents have a conversation with their children to educated them on the true dangers and consequences of human trafficking. It’s also important for parents to become familiar with the online apps predators use to reach children.

Durkin says it’s painful to know there are people out there taking advantage of children and their trust.

“It just doesn’t seem fair because that’s not our job,” Durkin said. “Our job is to take care of them and when we see a child getting taken advantage of it is hurtful.”

Durkin encourages parents who are concerned for their children to reach out to their local law enforcement or child advocacy center for help.