The fight against human trafficking will make its way to central Minnesota later this month.
Filmmaker, entrepreneur and advocate Jaco Booyens has been on the frontlines rescuing kids for more than two decades. He will bring his message to Waite Park on Sept. 14 for a fundraiser.
He joined Liz Collin Reports to discuss how this work is personal for him.
“We fight so it doesn’t become personal to American families. In 1994, I was 18 and my sister was trafficked. She was 12 years old. We didn’t know it was trafficking at the time. That’s when this journey started for us,” Booyens said.
Booyens explained how the crime has never been more prominent than it is now.
“Sexual exploitation of minors has never reached these levels,” he said.
“There’s not a single zip code in America where child trafficking hasn’t been investigated. It’s in every community because people are vulnerable,” Booyens continued. “In Minnesota, 47% of all sex trafficking is what’s called familial trafficking. Which means it’s a family member or a trusted caregiver that’s trafficking the child.”
He said in the last 40 days his organization has helped rescue 13 children.
“Every single one of those had a familial component. None of them involved a kidnapping. None,” he said.
“When that predator knows the vulnerability of that child, they can get that child to do anything,” he added.
Booyens consulted on the box office hit “Sound of Freedom,” which was released this summer. Booyens said he is glad the problem is finally a part of the national conversation because of the film.
“The call to action to the local community has to now happen,” he said.
“The predominant trafficking victims are American-born children. It’s Americans trafficking Americans. We’re the number one nation on earth producing pornography. We’re the number one nation on earth consuming pornography. We must once again as a nation return to living a moral lifestyle, protecting the innocent and the virtue of children. We have to return to sanity because we’ve lost our mind,” Booyens added.
He said trafficking has become a bigger problem with young children having phones.
“On average, a predator takes nine months to profile a child,” Booyens explained. “They like a post, they study the child’s profiles, they learn their behavior and see where they’re coming and going.”
“We are all as human beings walking around with signs on our head that say, ‘Make me feel important.’ When the predator figures out what that child’s desire and need is, it is game over. The predator has direct access to the victim because of social media,” Booyens said.
He said the “pimps” these days are social media companies like Facebook and Instagram.
“Parents are the second line of defense. We can make the child the first line of defense,” Booyens added.
Minnesotans will have a chance to hear Booyens speak in-person at the Rise for Hope event benefiting Terebinth Refuge in Waite Park on Sept. 14. The organization supports women who are survivors of human trafficking.
Registration is required for the breakfast. Later in the evening, people will also be able to watch Booyens’ documentary “Sex Nation.”
There is a $15 charge to see the film and Booyens will be on site for a question-and-answer session after the film.
Booyens said Minnesota is “moving in the wrong direction” and encouraged people to get involved.
“To protect children they are trending in the wrong direction,” he said.
His organization has helped train more than 60,000 women and children this year alone.
More information on Booyens’ work, educational resources, and more can be found here.