TOPEKA – (December 16, 2015) − Kansas Governor Sam Brownback today proclaimed January to be Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Gov. Brownback was joined by Attorney General Derek Schmidt; Secretary Lana Gordon, Kansas Department of Labor; and Secretary Susan Mosier, M.D., MBA, FACS, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, in issuing today’s proclamation.
“I take seriously the fight against human trafficking, “ Governor Sam Brownback said. “We have trained more than 500 child welfare professionals about human trafficking rings making Kansas a national model for preventing this horrendous crime. We must change the perception that the youth and adults who are trafficked are criminals. They are not. They are victims of a terrible crime.”
Human trafficking, a modern form of slavery, 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 and both adults and children are victims. Kansas’ location and interstate system make it a major transportation area for victims of human trafficking.
“Our office remains committed to efforts to thwart criminal activity, hold accountable both traffickers and buyers, and provide victim support. Awareness is also an important part of combating human trafficking,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “The public can assist by reporting suspicious activity to the national hotline at 888-3737-888 or to local law enforcement in an emergency situation. The watchful eyes of Kansas citizens can help protect those who are vulnerable from this crime against human dignity.”
“The Kansas Department for Children and Families is proud to work closely with other State agencies to grow the awareness of this unfortunate reality in Kansas. No one deserves to be a victim of human trafficking,” said Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. “Our staff is trained to watch for signs of human trafficking of children and work with local authorities to promptly and safely address it. We can all play a part in ending this crime in our state, by knowing how to identify human trafficking and reporting it.”
The 2013 Kansas human trafficking laws define commercial exploitation of children, which does not require a showing of force, fraud, threat or coercion and references the existing statutory definition of human trafficking and aggravated human trafficking.
“The legislators strengthened our ability to prosecute labor traffickers, but it is still a big problem,” KDOL Secretary Lana Gordon said. “While we have made immense strides with the bill, we cannot stop there and need to continue fighting. Nearly 20 percent of trafficking involves labor exploitation. If you or someone you know is working under unfair conditions, please report it.”
Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud or coercion.
“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is committed to educating child care and health care providers about the warning signs of human trafficking and how and where to report suspected activity,” said Dr. Susan Mosier, Secretary of KDHE. “These efforts are important to help stop human trafficking in our state.”
The Governor along with the Attorney General’s office, DCF, KDHE, KDOC and KDOL are working together to educate Kansans about the presence of human trafficking, what to look for and how to report suspected human trafficking. Educational information is provided on the agencies’ websites.
“The Kansas Department of Corrections is working closely with other state agencies to address human trafficking in Kansas by supporting those who have been victimized and incarcerating those found guilty in an effort to prevent future victimization,” Secretary Ray Roberts said.
For more information on Human Trafficking go to http://ag.ks.gov/human-trafficking .