Conference brings attention to child abuse, trafficking - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Conference brings attention to child abuse, trafficking

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Dr. Arne Graff Dr. Arne Graff
La Crosse, WI (WXOW) -

Wisconsin authorities receive more than 40,000 reports of abuse each year according to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services.

In La Crosse County, there are more than 1,000 cases of child abuse and neglect; 350 of those cases are substantiated.

Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare hosted their 20th Annual Child Maltreatment Conference at the Radisson Hotel Thursday.

Dr. Arne Graff, Medical Director for Mayo Clinic's Child and Family Advocacy Program, said there's a lot of different factors people in the community can watch out for, in an effort to prevent these things from happening.

"The internet just allows for marketing for the bad guys. We've done operations where we've watched on the internet and you post on certain websites and fifteen to twenty people respond in half a day on a website that you can post. So the internet makes them more accessible locally and also on a national level," said Graff.

Other warning signs include: kids who seem to have inappropriate, valuable items and youth who have constant truancy issues.

Graff stressed that child trafficking continues to change and worsen with the prevalence of the internet and ever-changing social media sites.

"There's a whole new category called sextortion now where kids are being harassed or made to do things including sexual acts from people they have no idea who they are because they've had this social media contact. That it's anonymous, so there's no question that it really influences and puts the kid at risk," added Graff.

A nationally curated art exhibit in conjunction with Viterbo University is part of the conference as well. 

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