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Conference aims to shed new light on sex trafficking crime

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A conference held in the Kansas City metro was the first of its kind aimed at shedding new light on the crime of sex trafficking and helping victims of sexual exploitation.

Sex trafficking is a difficult subject to talk about and that's exactly why experts and survivors gathered at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Pierson Auditorium to try and push the conversation and find real solutions to the problem.

Organizers say the conference in KC consisted of the largest group of experts and survivors of sex trafficking. They are calling for concrete steps to help people out of sex trafficking and prostitution, such as free long-term transitional housing along with job training and drug and alcohol counseling.

Experts at the conference also addressed the use of the word victim in these cases. They worked to teach people that prostitution is not a choice, but that people are often pushed into the life and it sometimes begins with sexual abuse in childhood.

One high school student traveled to the conference from Willow Springs in central Missouri. She's doing her senior project on sex trafficking in hopes of raising awareness.

"I am from a small town and it may not be happening in my town, or it possibly could be. But when you step outside of that town, it's happening and people need to be aware of it and be aware that it's being done to other people, whether it affects our community or not," Shanda Burtchett said.

Experts said sex trafficking can happen anywhere and to anyone.

Veronica's Voice is a big organization in the Kansas City area that addresses the issue, and people with the organization said they have about 500 people come to them every year trying to look for ways to get out of the life.

Click here for more information on Veronica's Voice.

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