January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is Human Trafficking Awareness month in the state of Kansas.

Human Trafficking can happen anywhere. 

"It is a real and substantial problem in Kansas, and we believe our geography contributes to that at the center of the country with major interstates traveling through,” says Derek Schmidt.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said at a proclamation signing last week, the state is working to crack down on the trafficking, mainly through education.

"We're on the front end of the process training every commercial driver license holder in the state, in the signs of trafficking, what to look for, what to see, what to do when you spot it,” says Derek Schmidt.

Those signs include seeing a minor traveling alone, or traveling with someone who appears extremely controlling. The Attorney General's office says trafficking victims can range in age and gender.

"The average age of entry into sex trafficking is between the ages of 12 and 14, but we also see young women and young men," says Jennifer Montgomery, from the Attorney General’s Office..

"It breaks your heart, one victim's story is enough to make you want to do something,” says Barry Feaker.

Barry Feaker with Restore Hope helps victims of trafficking get out of the life, however he says leaving it behind can be challenging. 

"Unfortunately we do se people return to it because we don't yet have the systems in place to replace what they're losing. So they're losing the shelter, sometimes security, the food,” says Barry Feaker.

The Attorney General's office says while the state has made strides to cut down on trafficking.

"It's be a bit more robust in parts of the states with respect to the online solicitation and I'm hopeful that's an area we'll be able to make some progress over the coming months or this next legislative session,” says Derek Schmidt.

There is still more work to be done.


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