GENERIC Computer, child porn

Human trafficking is a growing problem in Mid-Michigan.

Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson announcing multiple children were being targeted and groomed online on school computers.

"It brings it to the forefront. So many people have their head in the sand on this issue," Nikki Kernen, counselor at Grand Blanc High School.

Kernen says the investigation ought to serve as a wake-up call to the community.

"They don’t want to acknowledge it, they don’t want to believe that it’s happening,” Kernen said. “And they definitely don’t want to believe it’s happening in their own backyards and it is.”

According to Swanson the students were on school Chromebooks, receiving flirtatious messages from people as old as 59.

Investigators have not said which school district or districts were targeted but Kernan says Grand Blanc takes preventive steps with school laptops to keep kids safe.

"It blocks certain websites, students can’t install apps or anything like that,” she said. “And everything they do is monitored."

Kernan acknowledges that while some people fear new technology can open new doors to danger, she sees new technology as a positive thing.

"In my opinion, we are able to monitor things much more closely than if students were just on their phones or their own computers and we weren’t aware of it," she said.

Kernan says staff in the Grand Blanc District are educated on human trafficking, knowing the signs and understanding reality and misconceptions.

She says they’re trying to be proactive and they’re going to be showing the second public viewing of ‘Ring of Silence,’ a movie which showcases the dangers of human trafficking, on February 26.

“We really feel like if our students and our parents know what’s going on that’s half the battle right there,” Kernan said.

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