By: Cole Miller
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people are sold and exploited, and it's not just happening in other countries. It's an issue right here in Nebraska. So Monday, UNL hosted a human trafficking summit.
It's the second largest illegal industry, only behind drugs. And now local groups are looking at what can be done to make a difference here at home.
"It's a really sensitive issue and people don't think that it happens in our own backyards," UNL graduate student Allison Busch said.
But the scary truth is just that, it's an issue without borders. It prompted a group of journalism students to hold a summit Monday, where local activists spoke about the issue, brainstorming ways to fight it.
"If a small group of committed people come together, they can change this and I think it's time that we see what is our role in this and do something," Professor Sriyani Tidball said.
According to Stop Child Trafficking Now, it's a $12 billion global industry, with more than one million children in the mix. Every year, 200,000 U.S. children become vulnerable to the effects, where they're forced in to prostitution, manual labor and involuntary servitude.
If they're lucky enough to escape, local groups like "I've got a name" help get victims back on their feet.
"It's all about making sure they're safe and secure and helping them through the process because it's a very long, strenuous process and for them to do it by themselves would be heartbreaking," "I've Got A Name" Director of Outreach Nikki Siegel said.
It's a war with many battles yet to come, but these students hope it starts the first of many conversations.
"I think that more than anything, the word of mouth and the awareness spreading will be the biggest help to stopping human trafficking here in Lincoln," UNL Senior Rachel Foehlinger said.
Lincoln senator Amanda McGill has introduced new legislation in regards to these crimes and how people are prosecuted. As of now, there are few laws and the language is almost non existent.