Shocking statistics in a new public service announcement about human trafficking hope to raise awareness throughout New York state.
According to the PSA, more than 1,000 children under the age of 18 are trafficked each year. Yet often times, these crimes go unreported.
Two ads will be distributed throughout our community in a joint effort between Monroe County, the Center for Youth, and RIT, to raise awareness about the "Safe Harbour Program."
The program connects victims with the support services they need. Monroe County Executive, Maggie Brooks, explained that "when [victims] are identified, we can immediately work with the Center for Youth and other agencies to provide safe housing, and other programs and services."
Val Douglas is the Director of Runaway/Homeless Youth Services at the Center for Youth. She says that the Safe Harbour Program plays a big role in getting children and teens off the streets.
"Before the Safe Harbour legislation, these young people who were involved in trafficking were arrested as prostitutes and what's really important is that these young people now know that they're not criminals," urged Douglas. "a crime is being committed against them."
Douglas says human trafficking is a problem everyone can help solve, and raising awareness is the first step. "We want parents to know, we want school teachers to know, social workers to know - to look for those red flags."
The Center for Youth says 106 victims involved, or at risk of trafficking, have been identified over the last 18 months. Advocates say some of the signs to watch for are kids and teens who are tired often, wearing the same clothes for days at a time, and having repeated medical issues.
The Safe Harbour Program has been in Monroe County since 2012