OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A demonstration to raise awareness about child trafficking was held Thursday at Roe Park in Overland Park.
The event by Rise Up for Children was part of a National Human trafficking Awareness Day event.
“We have to make a difference. We can’t be quiet anymore. It could happen to my kids. It could happen to anybody’s kids,” said Aubrey Eitland with Rise Up.
Eitland said the decision to raise awareness was sparked by the staggering numbers of child victims during the pandemic.
Calls to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have reportedly increased by 90% compared to this time last year.
During the demonstration, the group marched around the park with signs highlighting the statistics and troubling issue.
“I had no idea how prevalent human trafficking was, especially for kids and in America. I had no clue,” said Brittany Knudson, also with Rise Up.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 400,000 children were reported missing in the United States in 2019, and every 30 seconds a child is sold for sex.
Experts say the average age of a victim is just 16 years old.
Eitland said the group is not only raising awareness about what is happening around the country, but also here in the metro.
Kansas City is ranked as the 10th worst city for sex trafficking in the United States, according to national human trafficking statistics.
“It does happen here, and you wouldn’t think so,” Eitland said. “We are doing research and hearing all these statistics, and these mamas, we were like, ‘We are not sitting down. We are not going to listen to this and not do anything and not say anything.’ The first step is awareness.”
To get involved with the campaign, visit this site.