BERLIN -- On the evening of February 7, over 125 people filled the hall at All Saints Parish in Berlin to learn more about the impact of human trafficking at the local level.
Sr. Carol Haanen of 5-stones, an organization based in the Fox Valley that raises awareness about the dangers and magnitude of human trafficking in Wisconsin, shared startling statistics with the crowd.
The average age of a girl or boy that is coerced into commercial exploitation is 12 to 14 years old. Milwaukee is a major national hub of commercial exploitation.
Human trafficking exists in every county in Wisconsin, particularly in cities and towns along major highways.
Patti Crump is a client advocate for ASTOP, a sexual assault service provider offering treatment, outreach, prevention, and advocacy, emphasizing hope and connection to self and others in Green Lake, Fond du Lac, and Waushara Counties.
She shared stories of how many young girls from small communities, including those in Green County, have fallen victim to human traffickers.
The event was sponsored by the All Saints Council of Catholic Women. According to Carol Brennan, president of the local council, the National Council of Catholic Woman (NCCW) has made raising awareness of human trafficking a top priority.
“After attending the NCCW convention over a year ago and learning more about the prevalence of human trafficking at the national level, our local council felt the need to raise awareness in our own community,” said Brennan.
“We are very pleased that so many people came to learn more about this hidden and growing problem. Awareness is the first step in combating human trafficking.”
Brennan said that human trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. “We are naïve and think we don’t have this problem in the safe, conservative Midwest and more specifically around Berlin. However, truth is, there is trafficking in all 50 states. It does not distinguish between race, religion, sex, political party, or economic status. It is growing in the Fox Valley, especially along the Hwy. 41 corridor.
“Recognizing the value and dignity of ALL human life, we invited all adults of the community and high school students to come and discover ways we can fight against human trafficking through awareness, education, and prevention steps. We want to keep our community, families, and especially our children safe.
“Trafficking is very prevalent around resorts and truck stops. Even children ages 14 and younger are recruited.
“If you see something suspicious, say something to someone and/or do something,” Brennan emphasized.