ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and the local Safe Harbour Programs are asking for your help recognizing human trafficking in our local community.

Human trafficking is a crime involving the exploitation of someone for the purposes of compelled labor or a commercial sex act through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Human trafficking affects individuals across the world, including here in the United States, and is commonly regarded as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. Human trafficking affects every community in the United States across age, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds. According to WorldPopulationReview.com the four states with the highest rates of human trafficking in the United States are California, Texas, Florida, and New York.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day is recognized each year on January 11th. In recognition of this important day, and throughout the month of January, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign hosts several special events and educational activities. Blue Campaign’s largest initiative is #WearBlueDay on January 11th. To raise awareness of human trafficking, they invite the public to take photos of themselves, friends, family, and colleagues wearing blue clothing and share them on social media with their #WearBlueDay hashtag.

Locally, Catholic Charities, in partnership with the Schuyler County Youth Bureau, operates the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program and the Safe Harbour Program serving anyone 10-24 years old who has run away, is at risk of running away or has been a victim of human trafficking. The local 24-hour hotline can be reached by calling or texting 607-742-9629 at any time. A website with resources and help can be found at SafeHarbourHelp.org.

In Chemung County, the Safe Harbour program is offered through a partnership between the New York State Office of Children and Family Services and Chemung County. Safe Harbour works to address human trafficking by providing education and services to youth at risk of becoming victims, or those who have been confirmed to be victims, of exploitation. There is a concentrated effort to increase community awareness of what human trafficking looks like in our local community, how to identify potential victims, and how to prevent youth from being exploited. Call or text 607-481-3963 or email SafeHarbour@ChemungCountyNY.gov if you have questions or concerns about any youth, up to 18 years of age.

The two Safe Harbour Programs have partnered to bring free online and in-person events to the community and local service providers during January:

  • Rapid Indicator Tool Training – Zoom – 1/19/23 – 10:00 am
  • Forum on Human Trafficking – Arnot Mall Event Center – 1/25/23 – 6:00 pm
    • Join us to hear Andy Stowers Forest & Melanie Puorto Conte from HEAL Trafficking, Inc. as they share their expertise.
    • A panel of local experts will close out the evening with time for Q&A.
    • A light meal (subs, wraps, chips, drinks) will be available at no cost. 
    • Register online: https://bit.ly/ForumHumanTrafficking or by calling: 607-535-2050
    • Teens welcome!

For more information, you can visit the Catholic Charities website at cs-cc.org or call 607-535-2050 and speak with Sophie in Schuyler. In Chemung County, call 607-737-5597 and speak with Jillian. If you believe you may have information about a potential trafficking situation, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

Chemung County Safe Harbour Website