(Mt. Morris, NY)- January is designated as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The annual event has been recognized since January 2010 in an effort to bring attention to the epidemic of human trafficking in this country.
In 2018, Livingston County Youth Bureau and Department of Health created the Human Trafficking Task Force to bring awareness of this issue to our community through the Safe Harbours Program. The Task Force is comprised of multiple county agencies and victim advocacy programs in an effort to assist youth in Livingston County who are affected by or at-risk for commercial sexual exploitation. Commercial sexual exploitation is a form of human trafficking, defined as employing force, fraud or coercion to obtain labor and sexual acts. Trafficking occurs for a variety of exploitative reasons, and need not cross state or international boundaries to be considered trafficking.
Did you know according to Missing & Exploited Children:
· Every year in the US, the FBI receives over 460,000 reports of missing children
· Approximately 19,000 children are reported missing annually in New York State
· 1 in 6 endangered runaways are victims of child sex trafficking
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, in 2018, there were 5147 cases of human trafficking identified in the United States. Although individuals are trafficked for multiple reasons and people of any gender can be trafficked, in these cases the vast majorities of survivors were female and were trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children it is important to know the signs of human trafficking as listed below:
· A history of running away or current status as a runaway;
· Large amounts of cash, multiple cell phones or hotel keys;
· Tattoos or branding related to money or ownership and /or the child is unwilling to explain;
· Signs of current physical abuse and /or multiple sexually transmitted diseases;
· Presence of, or communication with, a controlling older boyfriend or girlfriend;
· Gang involvement especially among girls; or
· Travel to other states or staying at hotels when he or she runs away.
Even if a child believes that they chose to engage in their exploitation, it’s important to remember that the child is a victim.
For more information or questions on Safe Harbours please call the Livingston County Department of Health at 243-7299 or visit our website at www.livingstoncounty.us/doh.htm. Locally, anyone who is impacted by sexual violence should contact RESTORE’s 24-hour hotline at 1-800-527-1757 or at RestoreSAS.org. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is toll-free, 24-hours at 1-888-373-7888.
Heather M. Grant
Grants & Public Information Coordinator
Livingston County Government Center
6 Court Street, Room 302
Geneseo, NY 14454
7888, or at humantraffickinghotline.org.