Victims advocates at Safe Homes of Orange County say there is a lot the community should know about human trafficking, and that there are many myths surrounding the problem.
The International Labor Organization says forced labor is estimated a multi-billion dollar industry that local officials say has a big effect on the regions children and young adults. Labor trafficking is when someone forces, coerces or uses fraud to make someone work. Sex trafficking involves exchanging sex for something of value under force, coersion or fraud.
And for minors, any exchange of sex for something of value constiutes trafficking.
"What's interesting in Orange County is because we are a county that has both an urban/suburban and a rural environment, is that we see labor trafficking happen in all three types of communities," said Collaborative Programs Director Pam O'Dea of Safe Homes of Orange County.
Those advocates say even children 12 or younger have been victims of trafficking in the Hudson Valley. Data indicates a strong correlation between those involved in trafficking also being involved in the child welfare system.
"There are many people in Orange County taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of our young people," said Safe Harbor Resource Coordinator Alexandra Boswell.