For years, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson has focused his attention on human trafficking in South Dakota.  Right now, Johnson is gearing up for a conference on violent crime and human trafficking that will take place in Sioux Falls August 12, 13 and 14.

In light of the upcoming conference, Joan Neilan, director of the Bowden Youth Center in Sioux Falls, says young people need to be protected.

"Pretty vulnerable young people are targeted by these predators and then turn around and market them in the sex trade.  It's pretty tough to accept.  At the same time, we need to be aware of it."

Joan says predators know where to find their victims!

"I know malls are vulnerable because kids can be there on their own wandering around and predators know who to target.  I know parks are also targeted---places that kids hang out.  That's why we opened the Bowden Youth Center to give kids a safe place to come."

Joan urges parents to talk to their children about the dangers of human trafficking.

"I would imagine some of them are already aware of human trafficking.  But, we have to let them know about this crime.  We're a trusting part of the world and don't want to lose that.  But, we also have to communicate to our kids what a predator looks like and it could be anybody.

Joan encourages residents to attend the August conference.  The conference is free admission and parts of it are open to the public.  The sessions will be held at the Washington Pavilion.