SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, roughly 800,000 children are reported missing each year in the United States. That’s roughly 2,000 per day. Thursday is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which is prompting events all over the United States.
That has caught the attention of two local women, who are holding a rally focused on human trafficking of children. Organizers hope to see a crowd that will “Rise Up for Children.”
“We are the ones who are responsible for protecting our children,” Mariah Brunz, organizer, said.
Brunz and Dawn Bures organized Rise Up for Children. It’s part of a national movement to bring awareness to child trafficking.
“As a mom, I can’t sit back and not do something,” Bures said.
Brunz says the event included speakers and even survivors of trafficking. She says the goal is to motivate community member to better protect children.
“When people raise their voices and get loud and are heard and then it gets everyone thinking, if she can do this, I can do this,” Brunz said.
Bures says its important to stay vigilant to spot the warning signs if a child is in a dangerous situation.
“If you see something, say something. Educators have the opportunity to do that in the school system and health care providers, but we do, too,” Bures said.
The organizers say they were inspired by a national organization called Operation Underground Railroad. It is not affiliated with Call to Freedom, the local organization that fights human trafficking and supports survivors. However, Call to Freedom says this local, community-led effort to put the spotlight on protecting children is a good way to bring awareness.
Thursday night’s event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the southeast corner of 57th and Louise in Sioux Falls.
These organizers hope when people leave the Rise Up For Children event, they take with them a power to better their own communities to help fight human trafficking.
“How can they effectively utilize their own platform, what part can they play?” Brunz said.