Sex trafficking in Madison—a reality we can no longer ignore
Did you know that each and every day more than 200 children, teens, women and men are trafficked right here in the city of Madison?
That’s a number that’s pretty hard to fathom. And one I would have found hard to believe just a few months ago. But that’s before I met Det. Roger Baker of the Madison police department.
Baker is a member of the Dane County Coordinated Community Response Team for Human Trafficking and specializes in cases involving human trafficking and missing exploited children. Det. Baker was a vital resource to me, and a group of women from my church, Our Lady Queen of Peace, when we decided to host an educational event on sex trafficking. Thanks to Det. Baker we were able to connect with exceptional resources including:
- Tyler Schueffner, coordinator of the Briarpatch Street Outreach Program
- Tracy Scheffler, the founder of 5-Stones Beaver Dam, a group that helps to educate youth and adults on trafficking.
- McKenzie, peer specialist and victim advocate at Project Respect who shared her personal experiences as a trafficking survivor.
During the event we learned about the underground nature of trafficking today—there isn’t a “red light district” per se because recruiting and sales are occurring online and on social media. We also learned what traffickers look for in their victims. Runaways are particularly vulnerable, but kids hanging out alone at bus stops and malls who seem lonely or angry are also likely targets. And a distressing level of trafficking occurs through peers. Our speakers also shared signs that could indicate someone is being trafficked: for a list, please visit the Polaris website.
I’m heartened by the number of concerned citizens who joined us and the variety of non-profits who were on hand to share information and provide opportunities to volunteer (more on that below). Det. Baker stressed how critical it is to build coalitions: trafficking is a huge problem that no one entity can tackle on its own.
One person at the event, pointed out something that made us all stop and think:
That for each attendee in that room, there was a person being trafficked that night. Right here in Madison.
This is a reality we all need to be aware of and one that’s not going away without a lot more education and effort.
If you see something, say something.
Or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888
For victim assistance, call Project Respect at 283-6435, ext. 14
A big “thank you” to the speakers and organizations who made our event possible.
And another big “thank you” to Hannah Anderson for sharing our story on NBC15 (you’ll have to click through–I fear I couldn’t get the video to load).
Don’t miss SlaveFree Madison’s upcoming film series. Complete details on their calendar.
Want to learn more or looking for ways to get involved? These local groups would love to hear from you
Multi-Faith Coalition Against Child Sex