Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery that affects individuals throughout the world, including the United States. It is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. Human trafficking impacts every community in this country across age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic backgrounds.
Human trafficking is one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal industries in the world. It is based on recruiting, harboring and transporting people for the purpose of exploitation. Both sex trafficking and labor trafficking occur in Kansas with adults and children as victims. Kansas’ location and interstate system make it a major targeted area for victims of human trafficking.
Governor Sam Brownback has made ending the practice of human trafficking in Kansas a high priority. In 2013, the Governor signed a comprehensive bill into law, strengthening the State’s statues related to human trafficking, with an emphasis on protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation. Further legislative revisions have been made every State legislative session through 2017.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline received more than 13, 897 calls in 2017, with 4,460 human trafficking cases reported. These statistics were last updated June 30, 2017.
Kansas Department for Children and Families’ (DCF) role in addressing human trafficking:
- Law enforcement is required by statute to contact DCF to request an initial assessment of suspected victims of human trafficking.
- DCF is statutorily required to conduct an initial assessment of children/youth whom law enforcement reasonably believes are victims of human trafficking to determine “safety, appropriate and timely placement and appropriate services to meet the immediate needs of the child.”
- Provide placement and services for victims who are placed in DCF custody
- Continued participation by DCF representatives on the Kansas Human Trafficking Advisory Board
- Ongoing collaboration with multiple professionals, State agencies and community partners to address issues related to human trafficking and human trafficking victims
- Reporting by the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC) of any reported missing or runaway children to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to ensure expeditious response when children are missing or have run away
DCF’s response to human trafficking victims who are in DCF custody:
- Is victim-centered
- Includes strengths-based services
- Involves trauma-informed care
- Tracks victim in DCF custody to provide ongoing services and evaluation for needed treatment
Possible signs of human trafficking:
- Signs of physical abuse, such as burn marks, bruises or cuts
- Signs of substance abuse/drug addiction
- Signs of sexual abuse or sexualized behavior
- Signs of physical restraint, confinement or torture
- Apparent lack of medical care
- The individual appears fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense or nervous/paranoid
- Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behavior after bringing up law enforcement
- Avoids eye contact
- Tattoos (Tattoos of a name, symbol of money or barcode could indicate possible trafficking.)
- Older boyfriend or new friends with a different lifestyle than the child/youth
- Shows signs of gang affiliation (i.e. a preference for specific colors, notebook doodles of gang symbols, etc.)
- Brags about making or having lots of money/displays expensive clothes or accessories or shoes, or has few or no personal possessions
- Is not in control of his/her own money, has no financial records or bank account
- Is not in control of his/her own identification documents
- Is not allowed or able to speak for himself/herself (a third party may insist on being present and/or translating)
- Unexplained absence from school or overly tired in class
- Talks about wild parties or invites other students to attend parties
- Chronic runaway
- Inability to clarify where he/she is staying/address
- Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or of what city he/she is in
- Loss of sense of time
- Has numerous inconsistencies in his/her story or has a well-rehearsed story
According to federal and State law, any minor under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of the presence of force, fraud or coercion.
If you believe you are a victim of human trafficking or may have information about a possible trafficking situation:
- Call 911 if there is risk of immediate harm
- Contact the National Human Trafficking hotline: 1-888-373-788 Or text “befree” at (233733)
- If the possible human trafficking victim is a minor, also call the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC) at 1-800-922-5330.