by Sarah Thomack/St. Joseph Post staff
An upcoming event and exhibit will educate teachers and the public about how to recognize, report and prevent human trafficking in the northwest Missouri area.
Rebecca Lobina with the Northwest Missouri State University Small Business Development Center says human trafficking, which includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking, is a real problem in this area.
“This is not something that only happens in New York City or Chicago or LA, it does happen right here in the Midwest... in Cameron, in St. Joe, in Maryville, in Kansas City," Lobina tells host Barry Birr on the KFEQ Hotline. "Then to allow students to be aware of it as well and then to integrate the Be Alert program - see something, say something type of ideology - where people know that if they see these types of signs, these could potentially be human trafficking victims.”
Lobina says the ultimate goal is to get that information into high school and college curriculum.
“So that not only are the students aware that this can happen to them but as they move on out into the workforce and become workers in healthcare, law enforcement and the humanities… they may very well run into individuals, patients, customers, clients who are being trafficked in some form or another and they need to realize what those signs are so they can report it,” Lobina says.
“A Call to Action Coalition Summit” will include presentations from Homeland Security and the founder of the Stop Trafficking Project.
Lobina says the summit is an invitation only event for educators, however, a multimedia exhibit will be set up and open to the public about survivors of human trafficking.
“It tells you about international stories of young survivors of human trafficking and the response of everyday people who were ignited with empathy when they were confronted with this type of exploitation,” Lobina says. “The whole idea behind the exhibit is to empower people, ignite their empathy for this particular issue and empower them to do something about it.”
That exhibit will be at the Northwest KC facility in Gladstone Feb 25-27.
Human trafficking hotline: 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733