Frank and Linda Reich's kNot Today Foundation joined the Alliance Against Human Trafficking & Exploitation last August, representing another step in their dedication to raising awareness, initiating prevention and providing restoration for those affected by the sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking of children in Indiana and the United States.
Through the Alliance, the Reichs and Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner – who's been a consistent supporter of kNot Today's mission since coming to Indianapolis – will, on the eve of the Super Bowl, discuss the issue of human trafficking at the Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast on Saturday in Los Angeles.
"As professional athletes and coaches, we have an opportunity to leave a lasting impact in our communities that extends beyond the field," Frank Reich said. "To me, nothing is more horrific than the abuse and exploitation of children for the gain of those who should be protecting them. This Alliance brings together the influence, experience, and resources that can drive massive change, and with the support of organizations like the Los Angeles Super Bowl Host Committee, we have a platform to reach every corner of the nation and save lives."
The Super Bowl is an ideal avenue for these difficult, important conversations of which the Reichs and kNot Today are a part. Like other big events, amplifies the serious, pervasive – yet clandestine – nature of sex trafficking in the United States.
"It's a daily problem around the country," Kevin Malone, the former Major League Baseball general manager who's spearheading the Alliance, said. "And it intensifies and there's more of it happening for large events — wherever a large number of men are going to gather.
Buckner began supporting kNot Today after he was traded to the Colts and his wife began researching child abuse, exploitation and trafficking following the birth of their son. And seeing how his coach has committed to addressing and combatting child sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking has inspired him to use his All-Pro platform to join the fight, too.
"We believe that's literally one of the biggest issues in the world, in our country," Buckner said. "And it's one of the biggest things that's not really being spoken about a lot because it's such a hard topic to speak about.
"But this is what I love about Frank, it's what I love about the Reichs, it's what I love about Linda is they take that challenge head on."
Since connecting kNot Today to the Alliance – which includes other anti-trafficking and exploitation organizations A21, It's A Penalty, Inner City Visions and the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking (the latter of which Malone is the CEO and co-founder) – Malone has been impressed with not only the Reich's commitment to the cause, but the actions they've taken since founding kNot Today in 2019.
"First of all, you're impressed with who they are as people," Malone said. "And then when you talk to them and you're around them and you spend time with them and you work with them, you see they truly are passionate and dedicated to this fight to making a difference in the this area.
"They are actually getting things done. I think part of the challenge — there's a lot of people that say they're doing this, but they don't ever have any results."
kNot Today published a guide for parents and caregivers last summer containing valuable tools, resources and conversation-starters aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. You can download a copy of the guide for free by clicking here.
Linda Reich, too, has worked on getting legislation passed in Indiana to better protect children from predators and trafficking.
Another arm of kNot Today's impact has been the platform it possesses. Frank Reich has not been shy about using his notoriety as one of the NFL's most respected head coaches to support kNot Today's mission, as difficult a subject as it is to talk about.
But thanks to those efforts – and players like Buckner sporting kNot Today logos for the NFL's annual "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative – more and more Americans are learning about just how widespread and sickening the issue of child sex abuse, exploitation and trafficking is in our country.
According to the CDC, one in four girls and one in 13 boys will experience sexual abuse at some point during childhood; a child is sexually assaulted every nine minutes in the United States.
"Our kids are under attack, and Americans either turned a blind eye to it, are ignorant of it or they don't care enough to realize that this is a serious problem in our own backyard, Malone said. "… I'm just grateful that he's using his platform in such an amazing way to help protect kids and vulnerable women. There's not many out there, so he's unique, Linda and Lia (Reich) as well. They're using their name and their resources and they're doing a lot to try to eradicate this problem."
Malone hopes the spotlight the Alliance is showing on the issue of human trafficking and exploitation will not just raise awareness, though. He hopes awareness leads to action – Malone suggested readers can call their state and local representatives to make sure these issues are on the radar of elected officials. And having a copy handy of kNot Today's protection guide can lead to productive conversations and prevention of abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Again, you can download the guide here.
But a big piece is awareness and education – because, when people find out what's really going on with this issue, it's impossible to not want to something about it.
"Me and my wife, we're still learning, we're still educating ourselves," Buckner said. "We don't know everything. But it's all about spreading the word because a lot of people don't know about the situation. That's why I'm all for it."