Human trafficking is a year-round issue, not just during the Super Bowl
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - With the Super Bowl taking place in Las Vegas this year, some people have growing concerns about a human trafficking uptick happening that weekend.
“This kind of circulates every year, this kind of idea that the Super Bowl is the biggest sex trafficking event of the year, there’s some truth to an uptick of activity around big events but it happens everywhere all day long in every community across the county,” said Jennifer White, ICT SOS executive director.
Human trafficking is not a problem unique to one particular event, like the Super Bowl. Any time a large event is hosted where people have more cash on hand, the chances of trafficking increase.
“There’s a demand, which I know that sounds very very sick. But there is a demand, so that's why it increases,” explained Tami Wagstaff, Raise my Head Foundation’s executive director.
Human trafficking in the U.S. is a $150 billion business, but it isn’t limited to a certain geographic area. Oftentimes, trafficking nowadays begins online.
“We know this activity happens in Vegas year round, but it also happens in Wichita year round. It happens in small towns year round. So again, when we kind of shift that focus to, 'oh, it's this big event'...when this event is over do we stop talking about this? Do we stop doing the work? Do we stop raising awareness?” said White.
ICT SOS and the Raise My Head Foundation are two local trafficking organizations that help support victims of trafficking here in Wichita. ICT SOS says dozens of Wichitans are victims each year.
“It’s very underreported, and it's not really understood in a lot of places. There’s certain groups that are even more underreported. So we don't see it reported nearly as often with boys,” explained White.
If you have concerns about trafficking, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself, besides always being aware of your surroundings and covering your drink when you have one.
“Don't get in a group where you don’t know anybody. Don’t go back to a motel room with someone you don’t know. Don't override your natural instincts to keep you safe,” said Wagstaff.
If you or someone you know is a victim of trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888.
It's important to talk about these issues all year round, not just for a weekend in February.
Click here for a link to ICT SOS’s full list of resources on their website. Their phone number is (316) 444-0192.