Human Trafficking Prevention Month: SOS advises vigilance, report suspicious behavior – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Human Trafficking Prevention Month: SOS advises vigilance, report suspicious behavior

EMPORIA, Kan. – January is Human Trafficking Prevention month – during this month SOS, Emporia, Kan., is joining the Department of Homeland Security and other organizations and government agencies to educate the public and give them the knowledge to help prevent trafficking. Human trafficking is defined by Kansas Law, KSA 21-5426(a) in part as, “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjecting the person to involuntary servitude or forced labor.” Trafficking can include sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic servitude.

Misconceptions about trafficking are common, and people often think about kidnapping and complex sex trafficking schemes when they think of trafficking, but the reality is that it is more common for a victim to be trafficked by someone they know and trust. According to data by Polaris, an organization that works to prevent trafficking, of the cases of trafficking reported in 2020, 58 percent of trafficking recruiters were someone close to the victim. This is particularly true for sex trafficking, where in 2020 42 percent of recruiters were a member of the victim’s family and 39 percent an intimate partner or marriage proposition. Together that is 81 percent of the recruiters for sex trafficking being close to the victim.

However, friends and family are also the most likely way for a victim of trafficking to connect to help. There are behaviors to watch for in teens , such as withdrawing from family and friends, receiving pornography or inappropriate photos or messages, being overly obsessed with being online, hiding their device screens from others, receiving expensive gifts from a friend that the parents or family doesn’t know, or becoming upset when they don’t have wi-fi access or cell service. It’s important to create a safe and non-judgmental space, and to work on building strong supportive relationships with teens.

SOS works with schools and parents to try to help kids stay safer online, and friends and family play an important role in keeping teens safe from trafficking. Parents can help keep their kids safe from trafficking by building and maintaining healthy relationships, talking to children early and often about relationships and healthy sexual development, knowing the signs of trafficking and staying educated on trafficking, and especially by being vigilant about online safety.

Agencies have learned that the pandemic did not decrease trafficking, but rather pushed it even further online. Numbers for trafficking stayed steady overall in 2020, for example, but online recruitment increased a significant 22 percent according to Polaris. Trafficking recruitment transferred from places like schools and foster homes to make the internet the top recruiting location for all forms of trafficking. Facebook and Instagram alone saw a 120 percent increase as points of recruitment, so it’s important to help children and teens know how to stay safe online.

SOS encourages everyone to remain vigilant of their surroundings, to engage in open, honest conversations with their children, and to report any suspicious behavior to authorities. Anyone who suspects human trafficking should contact law enforcement immediately.

For more information, contact SOS at 620-343-8799 or 24 hours a day at 800-825-1295, or see

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