Intouch Group is partnering with the Rotary Club and another local agency on an initiative to raise awareness of child trafficking, the groups said Tuesday.

The partnership includes a contest, “Students Stopping Traffic,” which aims to inspire high schoolers in Kansas or Missouri to create their own awareness efforts — whether ads, a live event or social media campaign — to combat trafficking and targeting of their peers. Students will compete for cash prizes, with the winners also working with Intouch to bring their idea to life.

As with most public health issues, awareness is key to prevention, yet there’s no national program to address the topic, said Intouch.

“The Administration for Children and Families, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, considers this a public health concern affecting entire communities,” stated Susan Perlbachs, Intouch chief creative officer, who’s spearheading the project.

In 2019, 11,500 human trafficking cases were reported in the U.S., around two-thirds of which were for sex trafficking. Any person of any age can be a victim, but children are particularly vulnerable.

“Trafficking is becoming more severe with the help of technology, and as a technology organization focused on students, we want to help bring awareness and support our community in eliminating student trafficking,” added Audrey Mathis, COO at Lumen Touch, the fellow Kansas City-area firm partnering with Intouch.