SARTELL -- What started out as a book club at Sartell High School has morphed into an effort to raise awareness about sex trafficking. StAT, or Students Against Trafficking started after the club read a novel about an American family who dealt with sex trafficking.

The group has since "facetimed" with local and national advocates against trafficking and took a Stanford University course on trafficking awareness.

Sartell Junior Reyna Hager says the perception that girls are kidnapped and whisked away isn't always accurate...

They're being groomed into it.  They think that this is the best option for their life at this time because they had such a bad life beforehand. And so, it's just like a bad situation, more than just being taken off the street and into a car and not knowing where they're going.

StAT group advisor Joe Schulte says he felt a responsibility to the students and his own kids to get involved. He says the truth is tough to hear, but by creating awareness it can help trigger prevention...

It's so hard to realize that this is happening day in and day out.  That was the hardest thing for me to know...today this is happening and yesterday this happened and it continues so it is also the push to do something about it.

Sartell Junior Emma Gunderson says it can strike close to home. She says a relative of hers was nearly trafficked...

She was almost trafficked so I have a real personal connection.  so, like seeing that happening really wanted me to take action.

Advisors Terri Benson and Michele Nelson say the group has been growing as more kids learn about the problem in their own community. Nelson says that's their goal....to get the word out...

Awareness. I mean at this point, the more we can teach people about this problem that is very real in our area...that's the most important thing.

Benson agrees. She says educating the kids who are on the front lines of this problem is integral in saving others from the horrors of sex trafficking...

You know the more people and the more kids that we can get to just be aware with all of the stuff that's on social media is scary.

Sartell's StAT group is believed to be only the second one in the country, modeled after the original group started at a school in Washington D.C.

Sartell's group now has an estimated 80 kids participating.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Schulte - Sartell High School