Experts: Spread of false information distracts from real work to combat human trafficking

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 9:30 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Hundreds of posts on social media have recently been circulating with the hashtag, “Save Our Children,” (#saveourchildren). While people have good intentions by sharing stories or pieces of news accompanied by the hashtag, experts warn this can distract them from the real work to combat human trafficking.

“It floods our workload. So, for those of us who are actually doing the work every day, when there’s false reports that raise concern or even frenzy in our community, we get flooded with calls,” said Dr. Karen Countryman-Roswurm, licensed social worker, associate professor at Wichita State University and director of the Center for Combating Human Trafficking.

Jennifer White is the executive director of ICT SOS, a grassroots organization that has become a key player in Wichita’s battle against human trafficking. She said those wanting to continue sharing the “Save our Children” hashtag need to make sure they do some research beforehand to make sure the information it accompanies is accurate.

“That’s the best way to shift the conversation,” she said.

Countryman-Roswurm and White say among the misconceptions people have about human trafficking, is the belief that it often happens by abduction. They say that’s not really the case.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that they, the victim is just snatched off the streets. And while that can happen, that is a very limited number of the cases,” Countryman-Roswurm said.

With that, another misconception, they say, is that wearing masks could put your children at risk.

“I can say most of our cases that we see right now of trafficking starts out with some sort of online interaction,” White said.

Countryman-Roswurm and White said the real change in the effort to stop human trafficking comes with volunteering or donating to local organizations.

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