New Janesville group promotes awareness of sex trafficking
JANESVILLE—Vicki Butcher recalls the sleepless night when she learned about sex trafficking.
“I had never heard the term before,” she said. “I made the mistake of reading a story about it before going to bed.”
She tossed and turned most of the night as she thought about girls the ages of her older granddaughters being sold for sex in the United States and beyond.
Her uneasy awareness began a journey to do something about what she calls “an incredible injustice.”
Sex trafficking is the recruitment and transportation of people for the purpose of prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation.
Butcher learned more about the issue and brought a speaker to New Life Assembly of God Church in Janesville, where she is a member.
Then she and her husband, Craig, organized a small church group with a big purpose.
Not One More wants to raise awareness about and prevent sex trafficking in Janesville and the surrounding area.
Butcher often hears people comment that sex trafficking occurs somewhere else.
“Unfortunately, it is happening in Janesville and almost every town and city across the United States,” Butcher said.
She pointed to a case in Janesville earlier this year. Janesville police arrested a city couple suspected of forcing a 16-year-old Walworth County runaway to work as a prostitute.
Not One More is in the process of emailing 250 area churches to find out if others are interested in joining the effort.
“We will be much more effective if we come together,” Butcher said.
The group has created a PowerPoint presentation about sex trafficking and how to get help and offers it to churches, schools and parent organizations.
Cameron Rebarchek, family life pastor, worked with the Butchers to organize the awareness group. He said the church must speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
“Not One More is simply our small role in tackling a very large issue,” Rebarchek said.
The group recently set up a link called PORTAL on its website to provide information to families about Internet safeguards.
Most young people have their own computers or smartphones, which make them vulnerable to people involved in pornography and prostitution, Butcher said.
She referred to a statistic from The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: One in seven youth ages 10 to 17 has received a sexual solicitation or approach on the Internet.
Janesville Police Chief David Moore welcomes the effort to increase awareness about sex trafficking.
“Sex trafficking is something we monitor through calls for service,” he said. “We also have an active street crimes and drug unit, which can come across information. We continually monitor social media websites that can promote human trafficking," Moore said.
Last month, Butcher attended a day of advocacy in Washington, D.C., organized by human rights agency International Justice Mission. She was among 300 people who met with congressional representatives to build support to combat child slavery.
Butcher believes when people in Janesville become aware of human trafficking they will passionately oppose it.
“Sex trafficking is a danger to our children and teens,” she said. “It has to stop.”
Anna Marie Lux is a columnist for The Gazette. Her columns run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.