By Gerri Miller
They are the crimes no one wants to talk about, but their growing number has prompted several area individuals to plan events to shine a light on the subject of sexual abuse and sexual trafficking.
There are two awareness rallies planned for this weekend and an educational forum on sex trafficking to be held at the end of the month.
Who are the people leading these efforts and what are they doing? One is a Prattville mother of three children who believes there is power in numbers. She is taking her message about sexual predators to the streets.
Kandi Batrez is planning an awareness rally that will be held at Pratt Park on Saturday, September 19th from 10 a.m. until noon.
“This will be a peaceful awareness rally, not a protest,” said Batrez. “We do not want this to be a violent event. Nothing is ever effective with violence.”
Batrez has a Facebook group called “Alabamians against Predators” where up to date information can be found. Batrez said volunteers are needed for the event.
What are the issues Batrez’s group is striving to address? Electronic tracking for sex offenders, self-defense and harsher sentences for offenders are the key issues, said Batrez. She is working with a company to develop a prototype GPS-enabled bracelet to track sex offenders. She said it is also important for Alabama to find a way for children to safely communicate that they have been victims of sexual abuse.
“More often than not children are scared of police officers because of what they have been taught to think of them by the adults in their lives,” said Batrez. “There’s a lot going on for sure, but we are their voice. Time to make a change!”
“We are failing our children,” said continued.” There are new cases in the news every day. These predators have done their research when it comes to enticing children. They know what they can get away with.”
Batrez said one area she her group will address is Alabama’s sexual predator laws. She said her group is focused on changing laws to protect the victim instead of the predator.
“I don’t think Alabama’s laws have been revisited for a long time,” she said. “We have laws on the books that were passed in the 1800’s.”
“We have all these laws about drugs, and you are going to get more time for having drugs than sexually abusing a child,” she said.
Batrez’s event can be found on Facebook by searching for Alabamians Against Predators.
Rally Planned for Sunday in Millbrook
A Millbrook photographer has planned a “Stand for Our Children Rally” for Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Village Green Park in Millbrook.
Stephanie Williams said she was trying to find a way to raise awareness and raise money for a related organization she is following called Operation Underground Railroad. She is also doing a fund raiser photo shoot on Sunday from 8-10:30 a.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. There is a minimum $25 donation for the photos and proceeds will go to Operation Underground Railroad.
“My idea for the rally came out of the photo shoot,” Williams said. “Most everyone being photographed will have their children and will be wearing shirts for the cause. They will also be holding posters showing statistics.”
Williams said she is not part of an organization, but “just one tiny person trying to make a difference in this evil world with the help of our community.”
“As a mother of one little girl and soon to be stepmother to two more girls, I want to protect them at all costs,” she said.
The event can be found on Facebook by searching for Stand for Our Children Rally.
Human Trafficking Expert Plans Educational Forum in Millbrook
An educational event on human trafficking will be held on September 30th at 7 p.m. at SpringHill Suites in Millbrook. David Humphrey is planning the event. It will be the first meeting for Humphrey’s newly formed Alabama Alliance for Human Trafficking and Child Safety.
Humphrey said there will be a few guest speakers and a Human Trafficking 101 class. He said his goal is to reach, teach, prevent, and protect. Humphrey has an internet podcast called LifeTalk Radio where he discusses human trafficking and helps parents know the signs to looks for when kids are being groomed for the sex industry.
He said organizations often don’t know what to do to help victims. “People don’t realize these survivors may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, venereal diseases, pregnancies and missed education,” Humphrey said.
“This $150 billion dollar industry is truly a modern-day tragedy,” he said. “Parents need to know how to talk to their children.
Humphrey can be reached on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/david.humphrey.756
Alabama currently has more than 16,000 registered sex offenders, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Sex Offender Registry. The Elmore-Autauga News will be taking a more extensive look at this once-taboo subject as well as what sexual abuse and human trafficking look like in the area this fall. We will tell the stories of victims. We will visit some of these antiquated laws as well as highlight what help in available here for victims. We will also feature some of the many dedicated people involved with prevention and educational efforts.