Aim is to Curb Child Sex Trafficking in Upstate New York

There’s a new and disturbing term attracting attention in our communities: Sex for survival. Whether they’ve run away, been abducted or are being controlled by a pimp, about 300,000 girls across the country ages 10 to 17 are being prostituted.

Monroe County is one of five communities across New York selected for a grant and pilot program to help address the issue. The $125,000 Safe Harbor Plan for Sexually Exploited Children grant from the New York state Office of Children and Family Services will be used to establish short-term housing for victims of human trafficking as well as 24-hour crisis intervention and medical care.

While they’re unable to quantify how much human trafficking is going on in the Rochester area, Kelly Reed, commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Human Services, said there’s a high number of youths at risk. “We know there are a number of runaway and homeless youth in our community, and a common concern among runaway and homeless youth is how they’re going to survive,” Reed said. “One of the things they do is they participate in survival sex. They agree to have sex to have their basic needs met.”

Ed Suk, who heads the Rochester-based New York Chapter of the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, said, “It’s not a voluntary thing, they’re being forced. … Key items are to get a better handle on how wide-sweeping it is in the Monroe County area. We’re pulling together a multidisciplinary team of providers across the community who will rely on each other to identify victims and get them connected to the appropriate services.”

Learn more at Jessica Alaimo’s Democrat and Chronicle article: Campaign aims to curb child sex trafficking in Monroe County.

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