KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Attorney General Derek Schmidt today announced a statewide billboard campaign to raise awareness and reporting of human trafficking.
Schmidt’s office is partnering with Clear Channel Outdoors and Lamar Advertising to raise awareness of this crime and encourage the public to report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline.
The public awareness campaign is aimed at reaching both trafficking victims who may be unaware that resources exist to help them and community members who can help identify suspicious activity.
Clear Channel Outdoors and Lamar Advertising are donating space on several of their digital billboards across the state to promote the NHTRC hotline. Clear Channel Outdoors and Lamar also are leveraging traditional (printed) billboards and posters in the campaign to target the audiences and deliver the messages with high frequency.
The billboard campaign initially will appear in the Topeka, Kansas City and Wichita markets and eventually elsewhere throughout the state. The public awareness campaign will run over the next 12 months with the assistance of Clear Channel and Lamar.
“Awareness is an important part of combating human trafficking,” Schmidt said. “The public can assist by reporting suspicious activity to the national hotline 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.”
Human trafficking includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking and 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.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimate that each year, as many as 100,000 to 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex in the United States.
In Fiscal Year 2014, 20 grantees from the attorney general’s office located in 15 communities across Kansas reported serving 352 adult and juvenile victims of human trafficking.
The NHTRC, operated by Polaris, is a confidential, toll-free lifeline for victims and survivors of human trafficking to reach out for help and for people to anonymously report tips of suspected human trafficking.
People can call the NHTRC at 1-888-3737-888 or send a text to “BeFree” (233733) 24 hours-a-day, every day of the year. With a bilingual staff, the hotline is available in English or Spanish, and in more than 180 languages through the use of interpreters.
In 2014, the NHTRC received more than 300 calls originating from Kansas. The hotline provides referrals to local law enforcement and victim service agencies for follow up.
To request additional information about human trafficking or to learn more about potential signs of human trafficking, contact the attorney general’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit/Victim Services Division during regular business hours at 800-828-9745 or visit the website at http://ag.ks.gov/human-trafficking .