This morning, NY1 aired a short report on sex trafficking in New York City, pointing out startling statistics regarding underage victims.
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services says about 1,900 girls under the age of 18 are commercially sexually exploited in the city, some as young as 11 years old. Another 7,300 victims are between 18 and 21 .
The NY1 report briefly mentioned how the police are trying to deal with the situation, like perusing evidence in explicit ads found online. Vice Squad Deputy Inspector Anthony Favale had some general advice to the public — watch for “warning signs” in your children and call 911 on others.
Favale said the warning signs are “running away, and she’s going somewhere, her friends say she is going to this house in the Bronx or in the housing developments.”
Police are on the lookout for pimps, traffickers and their victims. They want the public to call 911 if they see girls and teens in trouble.
“When you call it in, say that ‘I believe there’s underage prostitution going on,’ and that’s going to trigger an automatic notification,” Favale said.
On Friday, DNAinfo focused on Jackson Heights, the “mecca of human trafficking,” and foreign-born sex workers forced into the trade. Many of these women were brought here by gangs out of Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela while underage and had their passports taken away.
Officials stated that 60 percent of sex trafficking victims who come forward looking for help are in Queens. “It’s really a hub and epicenter of human trafficking,” said Sen. Jose Peralta.
Aside from calling 911 on suspected underage sex workers, New Yorkers can contact or refer victims of abuse to the Family Justice Centers which provide counseling, shelter and legal assistance. (Image: KUOW)