Cathy O'Keefe from Braking Traffik
Cathy O’Keefe from Braking Traffik

Recently, Club hOPe sponsored a presentation at MCHS by Cathy O’Keefe, executive director of Braking Traffik.  Sex traffiking is the fastest growing criminal activity in our nation; a three billion dollar industry and second only to drug traffiking.  This organization was founded by Maggie Tinsman in 2008 to create a public awareness of traffiking and provide help to find services for survivors of sexual exploitation.  Those in attendance (close to 100) heard some very startling statistics.

Audience gathered at NHS to learn about this issue.
Audience gathered at MCHS to learn about this issue facing our nation

The average age of victimization is from ages 11 – 13.  Adult women are also forced into this life style.  More slaves are in the United States today than at any other time in our history.  Worldwide there are 27 million slaves.

There are two types of traffiking:  labor traffiking – compelling someone to provide labor or services against their will; and sex traffiking – children and adults compelled to work in the commercial sex industry.  100,000 American children are involved in traffiking each year!  There are 17,000 people from foreign countries traffiked into our country annually.

Club hOpe introduces the presentation.
Club hOpe introduces the presentation.

Runaway teens fall victim to this through recruitment, development of trust, and then exploitation.  Many times there is a recruitment process where the exploiter gains the trust of the individual and then the process begins.  Within 48 hours of running away, 1/3 are approached and of this group 75% fall victim.  Other youth at risk  are those involved with drugs, inappropriate social media/internet use, participation in gangs, and those taking part in unhealthy relationships.  Sometimes mental manipulation is stronger than physical abuse.


Advice when using the internet includes:

  • Never give out personal information
  • Do not meet anyone in person
  • Be wary of chat rooms
  • Be careful with online gaming
  • Remember – sexting is a crime!

Why don’t victims escape?

  • Fear of physical abuse
  • Convinced they are in love with the traffiker
  • Distrustful of law enforcement
  • No money
  • Shame
  • A feeling of acceptance in the street subculture

Another force that influences this process is our pop culture depicts the degradation of women and girls in song lyrics, online gaming, and on which makes this process look acceptable.

What can you do end demand?

  • Respect those around you!
  • Be deliberate about kindness
  • Refuse to buy songs with degrading lyrics
  • Take a stance against everything related to traffiking

Resources for assistance:  24 Hour Crisis Hotline at Family Resources (IA 866-921-3354 and IL 309-797-1777).  For additional information visit:

Oliver Wendall Holmes once said, “A mind stretched to a new idea never returns to its original form.”  Armed with information about this crime, please go forward and take action against it.  The future of our children depends upon it.

(Information from the presentation by Cathy O’Keefe on STOP TRAFFIKING)