Texas Works To Raise Awareness Of Human Trafficking

Andrew Greenstein
January 27, 2020 - 6:46 am
Human Trafficking

Professor25/GettyImages

DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - Human trafficking is a problem in Texas and across the country, and the state is aiming to create more awareness of the issue.

"The University of Texas was involved with a study published in December of 2016 that showed 79,000 youth at any one time in the state had experienced trafficking," says Alan Schonborn, strategic development administrator of Governor Abbott's child sex trafficking team.

And that number doesn't even account for the adult victims.

"There's a much larger number of about 313,000 adults as well that have experienced some form of trafficking, labor or otherwise," says Schonborn.

Texas ranks second in the nation in cases of human trafficking, but Schonborn says that high ranking is due in part to awareness -- in essence, the high number of trafficking cases that are reported to police.

At a conference on human trafficking awareness earlier this month in Dallas, one woman shared her harrowing story about being trafficked for sex.

For ten years, starting when she was 13 years old, Tonya Stafford was being sold for sex in exchange for drugs by her own mother.

Stafford told the audience that even after three pregnancies, no one had any idea that she was being trafficked.

"For ten years, I heard, 'I can get her in the back yard and get away with it," says Stafford. "He was right, because nobody was looking for me.

After escaping at the age of 23, Stafford went on to earn a degree in Early Childhood Education.

Today, she runs a foundation called It's Going To Be Okay which helps victims of human trafficking across the country.

As for Stafford's mother and rapist, they will never be brought to justice for their actions.

"(The judge) came back to the bench and said, 'I'm so sorry. We failed you. The school system failed you. The hospital system failed you. Everybody failed you. And I have to fail you today. The statute of limitations had ran out today.'"