Update on Sex Trafficking Topic At Annual Ecumenical Brunch
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
October 11, 2018
ROCKFORD—Those gathered at the annual Ecumenical Brunch held on Oct. 6 at St. Bernadette Parish in Rockford, got an update on the new initiatives that two community organizations are taking to curb sex trafficking in the Rockford area. 
 
Brittney Fry from the Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (RAASE) and Jimmie Getter of Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling (RSAC) both spoke on the impact of sex trafficking and the new initiatives each organization is taking to help victims of this crime.
 
Getter encouraged parents and grandparents to talk with their pre-teen and teen children and grandchildren about sex trafficking and how to avoid dangerous situations. 
 
“We are negligent to say the least if we are not educating and informing our children” about sex trafficking, she said. “We don’t have to terrify them, but we absolutely do have to educate them.”
 
One of the new initiatives that RSAC provides is community outreach speakers who give age appropriate presentations to area schools. Recently, Getter spoke to Boylan Central Catholic High School students. (See story in the Young Observer, Oct. 19)
 
“Just as goods like shoes and cell phones are bought and sold, through supply and demand, so are people,” Getter said. “That’s the key issue here, if there is no demand for human commodities, the supply goes down.” 
 
“The commercial sex trade is a $9 billion industry in the U.S. alone and Rockford is second highest in Illinois for sex trafficking,”  Fry said.
 
She explained how Rockford’s location with access to several interstates makes it easy for sex traffickers to move their victims around quickly and efficiently.
 
“Some new initiatives we have in Rockford are a partnership with the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking and an outreach effort to middle and high school students, where a speaker talks to them about how to recognize human trafficking and avoid falling victim to it,” she said.
 
“On a wider scope,” Fry added, “the A21 Campaign (www.a21.org) is an international effort to prevent human trafficking, including sexual exploitation and trafficking, forced slave labor, bonded labor, involuntary domestic servitude and child soldiery.”
 
In addition to the keynote addresses by Fry and Getter, Bishop Jeffrey Clements of the Northern Illinois Synod, Evangelical Lutheran in America gave the opening prayer and table blessing. 
 
Msgr. Thomas Dzielak, Spiritual Advisor to the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women gave a talk on the history of the Ecumenical Brunch. 
 
About 100 people attended the event which is co-sponsored by the Rockford Deanery Council of Catholic Women and the Northern Illinois Synod North Conference Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.