Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is a growing problem in our community and is causing parents and students to worry.

Aminah Syed and Kiley Peterson

You’re at Walmart picking up a sibling or friend. All of a sudden, a guy pulls up in a car and asks you to roll down your window. He tells you that he just came from 69 highway and he needs help paying for gas.
For former BV West student Camryn Leiker, this situation became a reality.
“I said no and drove off. I didn’t really think anything of it until after I saw a Facebook post where it happened to a girl with the same story,” Leiker said. “I called the police and reported it. They said he might be part of a sex trafficking ring.”
Sex trafficking is the act of transporting people illegally to sexually exploit them. The rise of sex trafficking is causing people to become more cautious and scared about
“I think that it needs to be stopped because many women are put in danger and even if nothing occurs, girls are constantly scared to walk around alone,” junior Mckenna Holland said.
Kansas is becoming a hub for sex trafficking. This is because of the intersections of the interstate highways that travel north, south, east and west of Kansas. A location that is close to highways makes an ideal place for a sex trafficker.
Over the past few months, several instances have occurred in the Overland Park area in which a man or woman, believed to be involved in sex trafficking, has approached a girl. On June 8 2019 at the QuikTrip on 151 St., another sex trafficking ploy occurred.
A man asked a woman to read his gas gauge because he said he had to travel from Pittsburg, Kan. to Omaha, Neb. to see his mother. Nine days later, on June 17 at the Walmart on 159 St., the same man asked a teenage girl for money, using the same story as before. The police said that this man was potentially involved in sex trafficking and created his cover story to lure girls into his car and abduct them.
“He [didn’t break] any laws or anything like that, but it’s really suspicious in nature and usually when there’s smoke, there’s a fire,” said Public Information Officer for the Overland Park Police Department John Lacy in an interview with Fox 4 KC. “I just want the public to be aware that someone’s out there and they’re asking you come sit inside their vehicle. It’s pretty creepy.”
On June 13 2019, a female teenager reported that she was being followed by a white female with long black hair at the Macy’s in Town Center. After the teenager left the dressing room, the woman asked about her sunglasses. After that conversation, the teen felt unsafe and told a Macy’s employee who contacted security. Afterward, she left Macy’s and contacted the police.
On July 26 2019, The Kansas City Star reported that many women were being followed at the Country Club Plaza. However, the Police Department denied the reports on twitter.
“It is really sad that [sex trafficking] happens to people, especially young girls because it makes [them] feel more like an object for men to admire than a human that deserves respect,” sophomore Isra Mounla said.
In light of these recent events, parents have been more strict on where they draw the line when letting their kids travel alone.
“I realized how big of an issue this was when my mom told me that I couldn’t go places alone, especially to the gas station because before all of this happened, I would go to get gas by myself all of the time,” junior Hannah Cowen said. “I think the scariest part of this all is the fact that these experiences happened so close to where I live and happened at places that I visit at least once a week.”