News Article
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

OCFS AND THE NYC MAYOR’S OFFICE TEAM UP TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Updated public service announcement, “Let’s Call an End to Human Trafficking” explains human trafficking and how to help victims

RENSSELAER, NY – The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the New York City Mayor’s Office released an updated public service announcement (PSA) aimed at putting a stop to human trafficking. The “Let’s Call an End to Human Trafficking” PSA is a 30-second video narrated by actor and anti-trafficking advocate Emma Thompson and produced by NYC Media, the official network of the City of New York. It raises awareness about the reality of trafficking not just in New York City, an international hub, but across the state.

A person is a victim of human trafficking when they are forced, tricked, or coerced into performing commercial sex acts or working in exploitive jobs. A victim of trafficking can be from any foreign country or from anywhere in the United States, and can be any age, sex, or ethnicity.

The text of the video is as follows:

“Fact: innocent people are deceived, then bought and sold like property. They are promised jobs, and held against their will. They are offered work, then forced to give up their wages, their papers, their freedom. This is human trafficking. Let’s call an end to human trafficking. You can help. For more information, please call the number below [1-888-3737-888], or in the case of an emergency, call 9-1-1.”

OCFS and the New York City Mayor’s Office are partnering with the New York State Thruway Authority to show the PSA at travel plazas statewide. A companion poster will be featured on bus shelters throughout New York City, courtesy of NYC & Co. The PSA can also be viewed on the OCFS YouTube page or on NYC.gov.

Facts about human trafficking:

• The most recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice indicate that as many as 300,000 minors are at risk of being trafficked nationwide.
• About half of all trafficking victims are children.
• It is estimated that 85 percent of trafficking victims are missing from their families when exploitation occurs. An outside force typically needs to intervene within 48 hours to prevent the preyed-upon individual from being entrenched and trafficked.

The campaign is supported through generous donations to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City made by Estée Lauder, the Helen Bamber Foundation and the Somaly Mam Foundation, and in-kind support of Grey New York. The Mayor’s Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to innovative public-private partnerships such as the anti-human trafficking campaign.

“OCFS is a leading agency on helping child welfare workers and the public to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and how they can come to the aid of victims,” said OCFS Commissioner Gladys Carrión. “Child welfare workers play a critical role in identifying sex and labor trafficking, but so do every-day New Yorkers who have the opportunity to help children and adult victims escape the cycle. We are happy to partner with the New York City Mayor’s Office to educate as many people as we can about how they can make a difference.”

“The Thruway Authority is proud to help bring awareness to this important cause,” said Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas J. Madison. “Millions of visitors pass through our 27 travel plazas each year, making them a perfect place to reach those impacted by human trafficking.”

“We know that educating New Yorkers about human trafficking works and that’s why we’ve been working with our City and state partners to increase awareness, especially among those who work with children,” said Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román. “This campaign, coupled with wide-ranging training efforts around the City, has led to victims being identified and traffickers being arrested. This simple yet compelling video sends a powerful message and is an effective public education tool.”

The partnership between OCFS, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and the Thruway Authority is due in part to the campaign’s brand manager, Norma Abbene, who has shared the PSA and worked to raise awareness about human trafficking not only across New York State, but across the country and internationally.

As part of the partnership with the Thruway Authority, OCFS has facilitated the posting of informational brochures on human trafficking at travel plazas throughout the state. This is a great opportunity to provide information, such as the toll-free national hotline number, to potential victims. In addition, having information available at the travel plazas will have the added benefit of increasing awareness of the general public, many of whom travel the Thruway on a regular basis.

“Let’s Call an End to Human Trafficking has been key in raising awareness about human trafficking for several years, and partnering with OCFS and the Thruway Authority extends the reach of the campaign to crucial areas across the state where victims can be found,” said Ms. Abbene, Deputy Counsel to Mayor Bloomberg.

The Let’s Call an End to Human Trafficking campaign was launched by the City in 2010, in collaboration with the Somaly Mam Foundation and Grey New York. In the past, in addition to this PSA, the City has featured bus shelter advertisements to bring human trafficking out of the shadows. The City also has an anti-trafficking website to provide more information about the plight of trafficking victims. By exposing this crime, New Yorkers can take part in the fight against human trafficking and encourage victims to come forward and seek help.

OCFS serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, families, and communities. OCFS has been working on the issue of child trafficking with the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) since the passage of New York State’s Anti-Trafficking Law in 2007. Efforts have included training and raising awareness among a variety of audiences, including SUNY Albany students, family court judges, the National Association of Foster Care Managers, domestic violence staff, runaway and homeless youth staff, child welfare staff and other stakeholders.

In addition, through the implementation of a pilot project entitled ChildRight: New York, OCFS is dedicated to creating and providing needed resources to build an effective statewide response to child sexual exploitation and trafficking. This project is focused upon training caseworkers, as well as law enforcement, members of the judiciary, school officials, and others, to appropriately identify and meet the unique needs of child victims of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. OCFS serves as a member of the State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, as well as the local Capital Region Human Trafficking Taskforce. For more information, visit ocfs.ny.gov, “like” the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page, or follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter.

If you have information regarding human trafficking which is not an emergency, would like more information about human trafficking or would like to learn about how you can help, call the toll-free National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. The NHTRC Hotline is a program of Polaris Project, a non-profit, non-governmental organization working exclusively on the issue of human trafficking and funded in part by the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Office of Refugee Resettlement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If it is an emergency, call 911.

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