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Many people think of human trafficking as unsuspecting teens snatched from sidewalks or street corners.
As an example, White cited two girls, ages 15 and 16, who accepted a ride early this month from a stranger who picked them up near 21st and Hydraulic.
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“I don’t necessarily think that we’ve had more activity but that we’re getting better at identifying it, which means more victims are getting help,” she said.
Hospital employees at Via Christi Health and Wichita police officers have received training to better recognize potential victims of human trafficking. The training is helping officers recognize “subtle cues or clues,” Capt. “Many times, you have a victim that doesn’t identify themselves as a victim,” he said.
“These people have so much more access to our kids than they used to,” White said. It allows us to do some really great work, but it also allows some really awful things to happen, unfortunately.” White said she has been moved and impressed by the community’s outpouring of support in providing supplies for the fresh start kits.
For her birthday party, a 9-year-old girl asked friends to bring items for the kit and made a game out of putting the kits together.
Part of that disparity, White said, is because 2014 was the first year it provided the bags to victims of human trafficking or other kinds of abuse, and the group didn’t start until spring.
The number of sex-trafficking cases reported in Wichita has increased from 29 in 2014 to 44 so far this year – a jump of more than 50 percent.
“If you could prevent the accident to begin with, wouldn’t you do that every time? “You don’t see that Cinderella story of being rescued and restored if they weren’t victimized to begin with.” That’s why increasing numbers of trafficking cases won’t always be considered good news, White said.