Tonya Cliffman is a woman on a mission: human trafficking awareness.
She has organized an Awareness Rally of Human Trafficking and Child Pornography in Nevada, MO on September 19.
Cliffman is also considering a rally on the issue in Fort Scott this fall, if there is local interest.
Cliffman’s purpose is to bring the topic of human trafficking into everyday conversation, she said.
“Whether it’s in the car as they drive by the rally, or in the living room after reading an article about the event. To start conversations between families, neighbors and friends.”
“Parents need to have open communication with their children, be involved with their children’s online activities and know what resources are available to them,” Cliffman said. “Parents need to be empowered and comfortable having these conversations and knowing the vulnerabilities of the children. For example, the techniques that a ‘groomer’ would use to build trust online with their child in a chat room.”
“I have five great-nieces, and three great-nephews,” said Cliffman, who is also a mother of a teenage daughter. “According to the Center for Disease Control, the statistics are one in four girls. So I’m sitting there looking at my nieces, and I thought ‘I am not willing to sacrifice a single one of them to trafficking or sexual abuse.’ When you really look at the odds, and see one of them could be affected, it was really overwhelming. I’m not satisfied with that.”
” I know of instances where there’s ‘sextortion,’” Cliffman said, referring to a minor exchanging sexually explicit pictures with an adult. “I know that some of our teenagers are out there having conversations with men. Because if you have a sad story, they’ll send you money. I think it’s a dangerous road to go down.”
People can get involved in the rally by joining the event and educating themselves with the organizations that have resources available in prevention of these abuses, she said.
People can learn to use the resources available from established organizations whose sole purpose and function is fighting these rising abuses.
Human trafficking is not something that happens in far off places.
There was a recent human trafficking incarceration in Bourbon County, in July 2020, according to Captain Alvin Metcalf with the sheriff’s office.
“He was arrested in Kansas City and transported here,” Metcalf said.
“This was an investigation done by the Dept. of Homeland Security,” Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin said. His office had no involvement in the investigation, he said.
“My cell is 417-321-2550 and my email is [email protected] or they can send a message through the Awareness Rally Event page,” Cliffman said.