Roo News

The Student News Site of University of Missouri - Kansas City

Roo News

Roo News

Pedro Rodriguez.
Finding a New Home
Gracey Saavedra, Staff Writer • November 17, 2023

  UMKC senior and finance major Pedro Rodiguez knows first-hand how difficult it can be to assimilate into a new university.    As a...

The Epperson House is closed to visitors, but can be seen from the distance around campus.
The Spooky History of the Castle on Campus
Aurora Wilson, Lifestyle and Culture Editor • October 31, 2023

  Located at the corner of Cherry and 52 St., the Epperson House looms over UMKC’s campus, haunting students who dare to walk past it.    Construction...

Dr. Villamandos and Dr. Grieco in front of Sancho Panza in the Twentieth Century
UC Berkeley Art Historian To Speak on Historic Haag Murals
Lauren Zoller, Staff Writer • October 30, 2023

  A University of California Berkeley art historian will present her research on Luis Quintanilla, a world-renowned artist whose murals have...

Tayler and the cast sit as they prepare for more filming.
You Are Now Leaving Godly
Lydia Schneider, Staff Writer • October 20, 2023

  Tayler Gilbert, UMKC senior and professional photographer, is putting the final touches on his new film, “Welcome to Godly.”    Gilbert...

Abigail Weiler holds her business card.
Clayful by Abbie
Gracey Saavedra, Staff Writer • October 18, 2023

 Abigail Weiler, fourth-year political science and French major at UMKC, delivers confidence in the form of handmade polymer clay jewelry.    Her...

Opinion: What does human trafficking look like in Kansas City?


Picture in your mind our city—all of it—the highways, parks, diverse neighborhoods, schools and businesses from Lees Summit to Olathe, KCK to the West Bottoms, Parkville to Shawnee, Westport and Independence. Do you have that image in your mind?

Now imagine that I’m taking you on a tour to see the who, what, where and why of human trafficking in our city. First, we are going to visit the nearly 100 illicit massage businesses in our metro area. You can picture them right? In the strip malls, the places with the windows blocked off that are open late. Inside, you’ll see the faces and hear the stories of the women who came here mostly from Asian countries under false promises of legitimate work. They live in fear and are sexually exploited multiple times a day.

We’ll go visit the streets in the northeast and urban core and see women that society calls “prostitutes,” and you would know the truth about why they are there. You’ll see homeless women, runaway and abandoned youth, many who are LGBTQ enduring unspeakable violence and sexual exploitation, just so they can survive.

You’ll see the inside of vacant and abandoned homes where violent pimps are not only selling drugs but also women and girls, some as young as 13. We’ll visit domestic violence shelters and hear women tell stories about the man who they thought was their boyfriend or husband and how he turned violent and sold them to other men for sex.

I would have you talk to kids in our foster care system who know all too well what sex trafficking is. We would visit our jails and prisons and meet women who have been incarcerated because law enforcement failed to recognize the signs of force, fraud and coercion, instead labeling them as a “prostitute” and a “criminal.”

We would go to hotels and motels, high end and low end all along our major highways, near the airport, by the stadiums, the Speedway and convention centers. We would go to strip clubs, casinos, truck stops and gas stations. We would go to Truman Hospital and Children’s Mercy where nurses specializing in sexual assault see human trafficking victims on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.

I would have you pull out your smartphone and see the hundreds and thousands of kids in our city that are actively being contacted, groomed, manipulated and blackmailed by traffickers through social media, gaming systems and other online applications while their ill-equipped parents sit blindly nearby. You would see that the pornography we consume is human trafficking whenever it features children or adults whose participation is the result of force, fraud or coercion.

And then, I would want you to see the over 100,000 men in our metro area that set all this in motion because of the money they are willing to pay for sex.

Phillips is a CJC Professor who teaches a course in Human Trafficking called CJC 390 New Dimensions: Human Trafficking.

[email protected]

View Comments (5)
Donate to Roo News

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of Missouri - Kansas City. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Roo News

Comments (5)

All Roo News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • C

    CarolMay 13, 2020 at 12:56 am

    This problem effected my family. This is personel, but other parents have been through this. I would like to share the experience but I think I’ll email the author. We are physically safe now.

  • M

    MeganJan 27, 2020 at 11:59 am

    What are we suppose to do with this information. You throw this out with no solutions or ways to prevent itz

  • R

    Rebecca MooreJan 22, 2020 at 5:12 am

    I believe here in KC. They prey on young women ones who have kids and with different father’s. They set girls up to believe they are in relationships at first and slowly introduce drugs as well as corrupt there life make them lose jobs homes call dfs on them create tyranny in there lives as well as create emotional abuse and physical abuses. The man in the realtionships is not working alone either they work in groups all connected through website portals on Twitter Facebook and VoIP numbers as well as stolen phones emails and business websites. The girls go from realtionships to realtionship believing each is new and exciting and can build life together as normal ppl do..but it’s not little does the woman know each man she goes with knows the one before as well as the next. Each guy passing off info about what she is looking for. With each new realtionship comes loss of family, friends, homes, material items, jobs, cars, phones, emails, facebooks, even some there children. Most of the events play out in long time periods and with each man the woman is more emotionally gone has more taken from her than she can survive with and is in constant fear of the next thing. All the things that happen r all organized and planned so that they seem coiencitendal but they are not too many of the women have the same stories same random events happen same things stolen or taken and all in the same kinda way and pattern. The workings of this is all organized planned and each person has certain jobs in it. Like groups of ppl with one person in charge and the one whom is also in connection with the other groups…kinda like levels group 1 has a job and things that need to be taken as well as the other a pyramid. The victim goes through each level some of the attackers becoming friends and really survival for the victim. They even set up ideas that make the victim believe they are crazy or in search of something or going to win a prize. The curroption used is mostly mental and emotional abuse and scare tactics and constant abuse to there self image worth and words or ideas. They surround these women and pass them around and it’s usually not until these girls dig around write things down and see the patterns that they even realize it’s all orcastrated. The smart ones usally can piece together the ones who know each other and find they are friends and have been long long time since childhood some. I believe they are in a secretive sexual community or society or something…I think they use these fake businesses to communicate and set up there appointments with other ppl in the group. Yet if they get a real life job or a unknowing person that needs work they simply go about it as if there group friends are there employees take the innocent persons money and create fake businesses in which it all comes back too. Most don’t finish jobs steal from owners commit fraud and none care that there business is in the drain cause it’s never even really what they need it for it’s set up for sex trafficing and is occasionally a money scammer to come up a little. They take turns in the creation of new bussinesses with new owners when one gets to old and no good. Then it gets passed down to there choice of next man. Alot of the extra money goes into casinos they get comps points free rooms they use to rent to the girls for a hour or so and get paid from the girls they have turned into slaves by there own agreements. The women in the end of the whole scheme most times years later find themselves believing that they are empowered finally can make there own money and can have peace no longer dating men who wreck there lives or have all there things stolen taken or destroyed without any one to find guilty..they believe the coiensdencs that happen were just bad luck and messed up timing they think the friends they made along the way care and that there family is the enemy. They find rides to and fro from the same ones who stole there cars they make homes in casinos and the same ones who homes in which helped take there own. They live out of bags most jobless and there survival depends on the ones in which took away there freedom to live normal lives. If a girl fights back more burden is put on her such as cars breaking down getting stolen jobs wrecked due to calls or co consperitrs that act like mad customers constantly complaining on the girl. They steal there lives away and walk away unknowing and innocent as if they had no idea what was happening. I trully believe that KC is a very dangerous place and that some good people here really are the bad people there in the dark places that are hidden in plain site. Even the police or investigation teams I believe are not able to see how large it is and how it all works together and it’s hard to explain it too. Most any girl who might ask for help or try to report it would most likely sound like a paranoid drug addict or mentally ill syziohernic…most reports I believe would be taken and set aside due to the confusion…plus the person’s they report are usually bussiness owners or work for one…and seem like real upright morally balanced citizens whom are worried for the victims mind and safety in some cases. Victims find good people are bad and that no help or support can help the bad luck in which incases them each time they get a home car phone job or anything. They find the only thing that works is selling there bodies renting rooms from there so called friends and that there is nothing they can do to find there self empowered but make money support there selves in a way and feel good about it even though it’s with there own body. It’s sad and really the only way to see it or understand it or even know it’s there is if you have been victim to it build up trust with them hear the stories and find the connections.

  • B

    Beth KingJan 7, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Please advise

  • B

    Beth KingJan 7, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Just last weekend I took my eight year old granddaughter to watch a children’s movie at Ameristar. When we went to go to restroom together the were two older men standing outside talking to us in unknown language possibly russain? They seem creepy so I rushed my granddaughter inside so we could go to restroom and return to watch rest of movie. When we were washing our hands two elderly women speaking broken English commenting something to my granddaughter I was just a foot or two away…one of the woman put her arm around my granddaughter and started walking her out of bathroom … I immediately grabbed by granddaughter yelling at woman no no no no no one touches her and she she said oh I didn’t know but I physically had to take my granddaughter out of her arm that she wrapped around my granddaughter. We went quickly away from them and noticed the two elderly women who appeared wealthy by jewelry and clothing started walking away with the creepy older men. It was very startling. We did finish movie but was very careful when we left. Is there any reports of older Russian or European couples involved in trafficking or kidnapping in kcmo area?