CryNot working to end human trafficking, holding interactive Webinar for Feb. 22

February 10, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield 

Bob Burnside of CryNot, a local organization against human trafficking, shared how he first learned about the topic and got involved.

“A couple of years ago, I was watching the National Prayer Breakfast from Ottawa. One of the speakers was Joy Smith. She was a former Member of Parliament from Winnipeg [between 2009 and 2010]. She presented two Private Members Bills to make human trafficking illegal. They were the only two Private Members Bills ever amending the Criminal Code. She was a former elementary school teacher who had committed herself to the issues around trafficking.”

Mr. Burnside added, “I was totally ignorant about it but the more you learn, you realize how bad it is, ruining families, ruining young people. I thought there must be something we can do.”

This was the germ of the idea to create CryNot.

“We’re talking about youth 12 to 14 years old who are tricked into this. What can somebody do to help? Just bring awareness; when someone is trapped it is a long and painful journey to get out of it,” he said. “You look at people who are discriminated, who feel rebellious – these [traffickers] live off tricking them.”

At that moment, Mr. Burnside was convinced, “There must be something we can do. Michael Right, a member of the Rotary, understands social media and created a website that has moved us along.”

Orangeville Rotary and Compass Community Church worked together to create CryNot. “We’ve spoken to a lot of groups from Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. They had no idea that this was in our communities. Farm communities were trying to deal with it,” Mr. Burnside noted.

There is a “play book” published online on the Dark Web, laying out in detail how to groom a young woman to be a sex slave. In the USA, galas for pimps are held to celebrate the sex trafficking trade.

Chair of CryNot, Jim Kerr told the Citizen, “The average age of girls recruited and brought into this is from 12 to 14 years old. That’s part of what’s so scary.”

He added, “It’s not just Toronto. Police say a lot of the recruiting goes on in the rural areas.” 

The routine for seduction of a victim takes time over three periods of six weeks each for the grooming, moving and entrapment. Grooming begins by a groomer who watches that child’s worst day, maybe breaking up with a boyfriend. The groomer is frequently someone she knows, a fellow teenager in school. He then starts giving her little expensive gifts. He presents himself as a sympathetic person, a true friend, her best friend. During those first weeks, he begins to isolate her from her other friends, her family, perhaps convincing her to have sex with him until they go out for a date. At that time, he will introduce her to others and take her to parties.

For the person involved in the grooming it is a full-time job. Human trafficking is organized crime and people who were groomed can become the groomers; it is always about the group.

The dangers online are great, especially if the girl has been persuaded to post photographs of herself in the nude.

“The degree of online sedation has really increased,” Jim Kerr informed us. “I’m speaking to folks and saying the number one thing you can do is know what your kids are doing when they’re on their computers alone. Our kids are more tech savvy than we are and they can hide things if they’re embarrassed about something.”

How big is the problem? In Ontario, there are 6,000 unique advertisements for sex traffic: “Do you want to buy time with a prostitute?”

Once the grooming stage is over, the victim is under the influence of the trafficker. A pimp is dealing with someone who knows what she’s doing; these young women are being blackmailed. Online pornography is done by people willing to make money. 

Mr. Kerr said, “These girls don’t see a dime – they are literally slaves.

“We have stories from a father. Another from a mother that lived it, of a good home but the kid got sucked in and they used sex to blackmail and stop her [from] trying to go home.”

The traffickers use the story where the daughter was raped and no one believed her. The trafficker moved in to separate her time as quickly as possible from the family, as her best friend, the only one to believe her. The only friend. 

“Her family got her back,” Mr. Kerr shared. “She managed to escape the trafficker.” Now the mother and daughter are doing counselling and presentations to schools.

Life as a sex slave can last for the relocation period, not months but years, such is the control the trafficker has over the victim. He withholds his affections until the girl does what she’s told. Coercion and mixed messages, nice then angry, using basic manipulation and insisting on more degrading sexual performances because the more degrading the act, the more people will pay.

The more attention is drawn to this by presentations, the more that can be put into high schools or some even middle schools, the better. There is now training for school staff to watch out for this, as Mr. Kerr noted, because the many signs of new gifts, change of style are red flags. There is a period of time when they are still living at home.

“This is going to roll out; it is required now by the school boards,” he said.

In the early days of CryNot, the question was: if we’re going to help what are the gaps? Public awareness, acknowledging they are dealing with the problem once it is a problem and endeavour to rescue but CryNot is there to suggest prevention. 

Jim Kerr continued the conversation, “One of the key methods of control is narcotics and that starts them into the feed cycle. They take their ID away from them; take their cell phones. There are girls who never become addicted to drugs because they’re anxious to please the groomer.”

He worries: “Are we doing enough to pin self-esteem on our young people? I can speak as a father; you have a responsibility to let your daughter know that she is special and unique.”

Webinar on human trafficking upcoming

CryNot is staging an interactive webinar on Tuesday, Feb. 22 from 7 to 8 p.m.

“We are responsible to spread the word. Now what has changed in the dynamic is that online has increased significantly. It’s a gradual thing but it’s changed so dramatically in the last ten years.

“Steve Jobs released the iPhone into the wild,” said Jim Kerr.

While 97 per cent of victims are female, boys are approached as well, and a high proportion of indigenous people. According to police, there is a growing number of boys involved and transgender individuals.

Feb. 22 is National Awareness Day for Human Trafficking. Each municipality is to put a line of experts on a panel to answer the questions.

For Dufferin, there will be a brief presentation. The public is invited to type in their questions, which will go through a moderator.

As Bob Burnside said after his initial realization, “Anything we can do to help – why wouldn’t we? We have people older and younger to protect girls.”

As to a person who would like to join the effort, there have to be conditions.

Mr. Burnside explained, “If you can imagine, there would need to be police checks; we really have to be careful who comes in. Anybody who passes a litmus test we would welcome.

“Mayor Creelman [Mono] was on the bench and he became aware of the problem.”

Pina Marino, programs manager for Dufferin County Victim Services was very helpful in setting up CryNot.

Said Mr. Burnside, “There is so much that volunteers can do. There are training sessions with the OPP. We’re there to do awareness – we can warn people against the dangers.”

To learn more and participate in the webinar, go to

The date of the webinar is February 22, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. You can register right now at the CryNot website.

Prevention is much more desirable than a cure…it’s much closer than you think.

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