Wichita stepping up efforts to combat human trafficking

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email
A Wichita State University work shop on combating the crime Friday was full.

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WICHITA, Kan. -- The house was full at an anti-trafficking workshop presented Friday by Wichita State University's Center for Combating Human Trafficking.

It's a problem the center says the community has to confront and combat.

"We tend to kind of think about it as an international issue, but it is really occurring right here in our cities in the U.S.," said Bailey Patton, the center's community outreach coordinator.

Sex trafficking is as much of a problem in Wichita and Kansas as it is anywhere in the world, she said.

Area law enforcement have busted several sex traffickers in just the past year. While the problem may not necessarily be worse here than it is anywhere else, Patton said Wichita is doing one of the best jobs fighting it.

"Wichita is really fantastic and kind of ahead of the curve of where most people are," she said. "We've been really talking about and working through this issue for years now."

WSU's Center for Combating Human Trafficking hopes to further that work.

Friday's workshop brought together therapists, social workers, law enforcement and others to discuss the signs and risk factors of and intervention for human trafficking.

"Also, our perceptions as community members," Patton said. "How do we think about the issue and how does that affect how we address it as well?"

Patton said Friday's strong turnout shows the Wichita community takes fighting human trafficking seriously.

"They're ready to be educated and know that they need more information," she said.

An identical workshop April 11 is already full. The center plans to soon expand its course offerings.

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