Does someone take the money you earn at your job?
Has someone taken your license or passport?
Does someone tell you when to eat, sleep or use the bathroom?
These are questions educators with the Ulster County Department of Social Services' Safe Harbour Program posed to about 40 young people on Tuesday evening.
"They've actually touched on some very sensitive topics," Ulster County Human Rights Commissioner Nina Dawson said of the Safe Harbour educators. "I think they made kids aware of some of the things they possibly might have done."
Dawson helped organize the crash-course in human trafficking in the gym at the Boys & Girls Club of Ulster County's Kingston unit.
"Our job is to try to prevent youth from having to experience that," she said, "or making them aware of what qualifies as human trafficking."
Boys & Girls Club Program Director Rohan Johnson said he believes the chat will stay with some of the children.
"We kind of talk about the same things everyday — things that happen in our neighborhood that we see — but this is something that we don't normally see happen," Johnson said. "This is something that I think is going to stick with them because it's fresh and new."
Dawson said this is the first of many talks she is planning in order to educate about human trafficking.
She is trying to get more parents to attend future events to help make sure the children are getting the message.
According to numbers published on its website, the National Human Trafficking Hotline has received 206 reports of human trafficking in New York state so far this year.
Below are questions taken from literature passed out at the event that Safe Harbour educators ask children when determining whether they are being trafficked or at risk of being trafficked.
- Does someone else control where and/or when you are able to come and go?
- Are you now doing a job that is different than what you were told you would be doing?
- Are you not getting paid for your work?
- Does someone take the money you earn?
- Do you owe any money to anyone related to your current situation?
- Are you being asked or forced to do things you don't want to do?
- Does someone else control when you eat, sleep or use the bathroom?
- Are you being forced to engage in sexual acts that you do not want to do?
- Are you being asked to exchange erotic or sexual acts for money, food, shelter or drugs?
- Are you being harmed?
- Are you or a loved one being threatened?
- Has your identification or documentation been taken away from you?
Resources in Ulster County:
Family of Woodstock Hotline: 845-338-2370 or 845-679-2485
Crime Victims Assistance Program Hotline: 845-340-3442
National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline: 888-373-7888