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Sex trafficking in Minneapolis

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Officials are finding measures to combat sex trafficking in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Daily.

The FBI named Minneapolis as on of 13 cities in the United States to have a large population of child prostitutes, according to the Minnesota Daily, with North Minneapolis being a high-risk area.

Young girls typically get involved with sex trafficking between the ages of 12 to 14, according to the Minnesota Daily. They are often runaways or come from a background of abuse, neglect, and poverty, according to the Minnesota Daily.

"These kinds of factors lead to vulnerability," Lauren Martin, a research associate at the University said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily.

They are easy targets for those who engage in trafficking and can be easily groomed, Martin said in the interview.

Sex trafficking might be a problem in Minnesota, but the state is known for being hands-on when it comes to fighting it, according to the Minnesota Daily. Organizations such as the Northside Women's Space and the Runaway Intervention Project are in place to help the victims of sex trafficking, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Around 75 girls go through these programs each year, Kate Richtman, the juvenile division director for the Ramsey County's Attorney's office said to the Minnesota Daily. She also added that the Runaway Intervention Project provide discrete medical evaluations and therapy for the girls.

"What has been the program's strength is that it's a collaboration with law enforcement," Richtman said in the interview.

She finally added that the program has helped girls get back into school and overcome the trauma of being trafficked.

The University encourages the public to attend a discussion on how to understand and end trafficking at the Humphrey School, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Meditate the stress away

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More university students are turning to mediation as a away to release stress during the last weeks of the semester, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Students say they feel more stress around finals than any other time during the school year, so they go to Mindfulness for Students to learn ways to better cope with it, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Mindfulness for Students is a group founded by some of the university's graduate students and instructors from all over the Twin Cities, according to the Minnesota Daily. The group meets once a week to meditate throughout the year, but they are the busiest during finals week, according to the Minnesota Daily.

"In the midst of an anxious classroom environment, I was able to have a sense of calmness," the group's co-founder and former student Alex Haley said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily.

Other students say the group helps them reduce stress in other aspects of their life, not just during finals, according to the Minnesota Daily.

"To be mindful, you are able to focus your thoughts more," sophomore Norma Thompson said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily. "You can clear your head before you have to start taking on a task."

Different instructors, who teach their very own definitions of what it means to be mindful, lead the group, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Mark Nunberg, one of instructors, said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily that he wants students to understand the significance of meditating regularly.

Haley teaches a method called the "body scan," which is a technique based on stress reduction.

"You simply take your awareness and sweep it through the body," he said to the Minnesota Daily, "which creates a sense of relaxation."

The group hopes that more students can continue to use what they learn through meditation in their regular lives, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Mankato coach exonerated

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A Mankato football coach was exonerated Saturday on felony child pornography charges, according to the Star Tribune.

A judge dismissed criminal charges against Todd Hoffner for recording a video of his three young children dancing naked and touching themselves, according to the Star Tribune.

The video was found when Hoffner turned in his cellphone to the school's IT department for technical problems, according to the Star Tribune. Police then searched his home, interview other coaches and talked to his children and no other supporting evidence was found, the Star Tribune wrote.

Hoffner's exoneration was supported by fellow coaches, students and residents of Mankato.

"I think he's been wronged," Mankato resident Tom Cooper said in an interview to the Star Tribune. "The district attorney took it way too far."

Supporters for Hoffner said they believe the video was innocent and the attorney's office overreacted, according to the Star Tribune.

"They screwed up,"John Swenson, a fan of the school's football team, said to the Star Tribune. "I have pictures of my boy when he was young and in the bathtub," he said. "Who doesn't have those? It's so inappropriate what they did to the coach."

Blue Earth County prosecutor Mike Hanson backed the county saying the case was "trying to enforce a statute enacted to protect children," in a written statement obtained by the Star Tribune.

Other residents said the case was provoked by the Sandusky sex-abuse scandal that occurred at Penn State, according to the Star Tribune.

"If we wouldn't have had the Sandusky thing a year ago, I don't think they would have been as quick to judge him and prosecute him," Becky Vosburg said to the Star Tribune.

Although, Hoffner was exonerated, he has been barred from the college pending further investigation, according to the Star Tribune.

Opionins in the classroom

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Professors are now allowed to share their views and opinions with their students without being reprimanded for it.

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents policy on academic freedom and responsibility permits professors to talk freely with their students about their views on any topic, like politics and religion, according to the Minnesota Daily. However, the choice is up to each individual professor.

Although, professors are allowed to openly share their opinions, some students find it uncomfortable and unprofessional, according to the Minnesota Daily.

"It's important to keep the classroom neutral," sophomore Collen Fahey said to the Minnesota Daily. "It makes every student feel more comfortable."

Other students say they don't mind if their professors share their opinions, as long as they present it as just their opinion.

"I think that professors should express their political opinions," graduate student Dan Stark said to the Minnesota Daily, "but in the context of 'this is my opinion' and be open to discussion about other opinions.

English professor Marion Damon was not shy about telling her class she was a "third party Massachusetts Democrat," according to the Minnesota Daily.

"It wasn't part of the content of the course on that day," Damon said to the Minnesota Daily. "It really was just playful."

Journalism professor Jerry Broeckert, who is openly Republican, said he uses his personal opinions to "get [students] thinking, according to the Minnesota Daily.

Other professors choose to not bring up their personal views in class, according to the Minnesota Daily.

"The reason I do it, is because a professor is unavoidably kind of an authority role in the class," political sciences professor W. Phillips Shivley said to the Minnesota Daily.

Professors said problems rarely occur when a student disagrees with a professor on a topic.


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