KATY PEOPLE OF THE YEAR 2017 HONOREE
Katy Magazine is proud to honor Kelly Litvak as one of our People of the Year for her dedication to educating families about the realities of sex trafficking.
KATY MAGAZINE | December 2017
By Ashley Lancaster
The perfect place to raise a family
Alan and Kelly first became acquainted with Houston, Texas in 1996, when Alan was asked to interview for a job at Channel 39 news. After seeing the city, the Litvak's knew that they had found a home where they could raise their future children, and moved from New Orleans to plant roots in Katy.
Over the next 10 years, they had two beautiful children that they raised in Katy ISD, with all of the advantages that an upper-middle class community has to offer - safe neighborhoods, a strong church presence, great education, and a close-knit community lifestyle.
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Kelly, who had always had a heart for hurting and vulnerable youth since her college days, released a faith-based book in 2007 titled, "Tools 4 Teens", which focused on teen issues and used scripture to help them navigate one of the the most challenging seasons of life. In 2008, the book was translated into a classroom curriculum, and the nonprofit Tools 4 Life was formed, and helped countless juveniles in partnership with Harris County Juvenile Probation. Kelly's life mission and her ministry were flourishing. But hard times were soon to come to her very front door, and spur a call to action like nothing she had ever expected.
Using personal tragedy to help others
"When my own daughter became a target for trafficking within her high school, I found myself on the receiving end of the population I served for so many years. Tools 4 Life became the launch pad for what would become the greatest calling of my life - Childproof America," says Litvak. Using her past expertise, and motivated by first-hand experience of a concerned, loving parent, Kelly knew that something must be done to shed light on the reality of sex trafficking even in the "safest" communities.
"No family is immune. Unfortunately too many parents, myself included, believe a good school district, upscale neighborhoods, monitored social media and Christian upbringing protects them from such evil," warns Litvak. "The reality is, sex trafficking is organized crime where recruiters and groomers blend in to our community. They can be coaches, soccer moms, peers, soldiers and teachers. All teens naturally experience some level of trauma during junior high and high school years. That event can be a break-up, sexual assault, divorce, parental conflict, peer fallout or loss of a friend or family member to death. Recruiters patiently and methodically target vulnerable teens and play upon their weaknesses. Recruiters are known to monitor counseling offices and church camps where vulnerabilities are exposed and targets are easily identified."
Katy parents need to be aware and informed
Making parents and families informed and aware is the primary goal of Childproof America. Litvak wants Katy parents to know that the demand for sex trafficking is high, (fastest growing criminal industry in the world today and is currently tied with the illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) and that services are easily accessible through Backpage, CraigsList, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms our children use everyday.
Hope for change
But there is much hope for the future. With the support of Governor Abbott's Sex Trafficking Task Force, State Senators Joan Huffman and Lois Kolkhorst, and State Representatives John Zerwas and Mike Schofield, with others, Childproof America is gaining traction with political leaders close to the White House. And it's got local backing too - a crucial point. " A while back, I was introduced to Monty and Robin Ballard of the Katy-based Ballard Foundation. The very next day I was sitting in their home sharing a meal and the mission of Childproof America. Before I left, they fully understood what Childproof America would provide to the Katy community and committed to funding the seed capital needed to launch Childproof America. The Ballard's are selfless investors in our community. I would also like to thank Kevin Malone, former GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Founder of United States Institute Against Human Trafficking. Mr. Malone helped fund Childproof America initiatives and joined the Board of Directors in June. A very special thank you to The Republican Women's Club of Katy and The Marriott Energy Corridor for their consistent and ongoing support of the mission," says Litvak.
Litvak at the Anti-Sex Trafficking Symposium hosted by Childproof America. Litvak was able to get the support of various politicians and community leaders. Left to right: John Clark, Texas State Senator Joan Huffman, Kelly Litvak, and State Representative Mike Schofield.
Future plans, national reach
Soon, Childproof America will produce a high-quality eLearning Parent Curriculum film with 5-7 minute lessons on how traffickers and groomers lure children into the world of domestic sex trafficking. The plan is to pitch the film to national distributors like Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, and Amazon for maximum impact.
Parents Need to Be Informed
"Childproof America is completely parent-driven. There are an abundance of organizations serving victims of sex trafficking which is a necessity for those needing immediate emergency care, rescue and restoration. However, prevention and support for parents across the United States is nearly non-existent. We must take a pro-active approach to empower parents against this evil that can destroy families and futures," says Litvak.
To learn more about Childproof America and get involved, visit childproofamerica.org.
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