PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It’s estimated that there are about 300,000 thousand children in the United States involved in the sex-trafficking industry.
"A sex trafficker has absolutely, there's no face. It can be a middle age woman in the suburbs it can be somebody that is a kid in high school that's grooming kids it has absolutely no face," says Cari Sparks.
Human trafficking is a scary and prevalent reality happening right in our own backyard.
“The second worse highest volume of sex trafficking in the entire country, that's Phoenix."
Cari Sparks is with the Starbright Foundation, an organization that helps in the fight against sex trafficking and says parents need to be hyper vigilant right now.
Halloween kicks off the holiday season, a season she says attracts the predators to our children.
"People are moving about, we have our defenses down, so awareness is really really important."
She says predators know kids will be out and about enjoying Halloween festivities.
"Predators are everywhere that children are, so don't drop your children off unsupervised is the best way to look at it, whether that's trick or treating whether that's at a mall to go shopping for the holidays."
She also cautions parents about costume selections.
"Proactive clothing is always going to be something that is a draw, so those more humble costumes would probably be a better route to go. They [sex traffickers] don't look at children as human beings, they look at them as an asset.”
Sparks tells parents and kids to never let their guard down to anyone, because a predator may not look like a "predator" at all.
"It can be that mom that opens the door and looks like any other mom from school, it can be a grandmother, it can be a grandfather, it can be a high school student, it can be anybody," says Sparks
Sparks says sex-traffickers are infiltrating social media and the internet and kids don’t even realize it. She also urges parents and kids to turn off the “location settings” on your phone or tablet camera when posting pictures because it can give predators your exact location.
Here are links to more information and resources: