OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, hosted an interim study at the capitol Tuesday and said he hopes to weigh options on education about human trafficking as well as raise awareness.
“This is something that’s multifaceted. It’s broad. It affects families, it affects schools, anything to do with kids and I think that we need to look at all that,” Weaver said. “Listen, it’s real and some think, well, we don’t have that type of problem, but we do have a problem.”
Since 2007, Oklahoma has seen more than 3,100 signals from the national human trafficking hotline. Almost 900 cases were identified from those, with over 2,000 victims involved. Both Weaver and presenters for the interim study said the number one way to combat this is education and prevention. In 2022, a $150,000 state senate allocation would go to that.
“The state of Oklahoma would officially start educating Oklahomans on how to recognize the early signs of human trafficking before the crime occurs or progresses to a level that a victim cannot find her or his way out of the situation,” said Brenda Barwick with the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women.
Where to go from there is up in the air. Presenters like Barwick and Kristen Weis with the Demand Project spoke on ways they have gotten the word out, along with statistics. But Weaver said he wants to see if legislation may be needed in the future.
“I think parents need to know about it. I think maybe our educators in the school needs know about it and even recognize with their students,” Weaver said.