Sex trafficking, an under reported crime, is garnering attention in Arizona, which ranks 14th in the country for this issue. Last year, 36 children were reportedly sex trafficked in Pima County, shedding light on the severity of the problem. In response to this, students from the University of Arizona are taking action to spread awareness.

Evan Laughlin and Andrew Kim, inspired after watching the movie “Sound of Freedom,” joined forces with sex trafficking survivor and advocate Lisa Hansen to raise awareness among college students through her organization, “Power Over Predators.”

Expressing their motivation, Co-Founder of W.M.A.C.E. Andrew Kim stated, “I feel like it’s a big issue that just needs to be addressed, and I think the little things that we can start doing can really help with that.”

The students reached out to “Power Over Predators,” an organization led by survivor and CEO Lisa Hansen. Hansen highlighted the importance of the program, saying, “Power over predators program, it’s free, it’s for teachers. It meets all sorts of guidelines. It’s for families who don’t know how to have the conversation or just feel overwhelmed and ill-equipped. What do I do?”

The students discovered that sex trafficking can often begin with “sextortion,” a form of exploitation where individuals are threatened with the sharing of nude or explicit images. Co-Founder of W.M.A.C.E Evan Laughlin shared his realization, “And I didn’t even realize that, like, that was happening. It was just like under the radar. It’s just like, wow, that is like right in front of my face.”

Laughlin further emphasized, “That’s just a straightforward form of exploitation that we can stop if we start spreading awareness with how to recognize those signs that it’s happening.”

The students have devised a plan to collaborate with the UArizona to incorporate sex trafficking awareness into the mandatory University 100 class, which all students are required to take.

Laughlin added, “We really can make a difference if we make small steps if we just show people what to look for.”

To keep up with the students’ efforts and find more information, you can follow them on social media or visit Lisa’s website.