TOPEKA – (January 11, 2017) – Attorney General Derek Schmidt today announced a statewide campaign to raise awareness and encourage reporting of human trafficking.
The new campaign is being launched on national Human Trafficking Awareness Day, which is part of national Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Governor Brownback has proclaimed January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Kansas.
The awareness campaign has three parts.
First, the attorney general’s office is partnering with Ashby Street Outdoor and Lamar Advertising in a billboard campaign that encourages the public to report suspicious activity to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. The companies are donating space on several digital billboards and also leveraging traditional (printed) billboards to deliver the messages with high frequency. The billboard campaign is aimed at reaching trafficking victims who may be unaware that resources exist to help them, discouraging buyers of commercial sex, and alerting community members who can help identify suspicious activity. The billboard campaign initially will appear in the Topeka, Kansas City and Wichita markets and over the next 12 months elsewhere in the state.
Second, radio public service announcements bringing awareness to human trafficking will run in several media markets across the state.
Third, the attorney general’s office is partnering with state agencies to distribute awareness posters in department of motor vehicle offices, state-owned rest stops and healthcare facilities across Kansas. The Kansas Turnpike Authority will also feature human trafficking awareness information in their January online newsletter, Turnpike Times.
“We are grateful to all of our partners for helping educate Kansans about what to look for and how to report human trafficking,” Schmidt said. “The watchful eyes of Kansas citizens can help protect those who are vulnerable from this crime against human dignity. This awareness campaign is aimed at better equipping the public with information to assist in identifying and reporting human trafficking.”
The National Human Trafficking Hotline, 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 hotline 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 2015, the national hotline received more than 24,000 calls, online tip reports and emails from all 50 states resulting in nearly 6,000 potential cases of human trafficking. The hotline received more than 125 calls referencing Kansas during 2015. Complete 2016 statistics are not yet available. 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 Victim Services Division during regular business hours at 800-828-9745 or visit the website at http://ag.ks.gov/human-trafficking. Billboard artwork is also available to view on the website.