ACS, ECPAT-USA, Cause Vision are partnering to produce and distribute “Where Is Dylan?” a comic book about youth sex trafficking
ACS expands anti-sex-trafficking programming through Safe Harbour state funding
The NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Senior Advisor for Investigations Susan Morley was today joined by JCCA (formerly known as Jewish Child Care Association) CEO Ronald E. Richter, ECPAT-USA Executive Director Carol Smolenski, and Cause Vision founder Natsuko Utsumi to announce expanded efforts to combat child sex trafficking throughout New York City.
ACS, JCCA, ECPAT-USA and Cause Vision will partner on distributing ‘Where Is Dylan?’ a comic book to help educate youth about human trafficking and empower them to protect themselves. The partners are working together to raise community awareness about this sensitive issue, continue promoting supportive programming for those escaping sexual exploitation, and encourage young people to get involved in combatting sex trafficking.
“Raising awareness among youth, parents and professionals is key to combatting child sex trafficking. People must become aware that it is happening right here in New York City, and our kids need to be educated to protect themselves,” said ACS Senior Advisor for Investigations Susan Morley. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve come a long way from the era when sexually-exploited youth were criminalized, to programs and supportive services designed to give survivors a permanent way out. Today, ACS continues to build on its efforts to serve youth and prevent trafficking with innovative partnerships like the ‘Where Is Dylan?’ comic book that helps us share the message that there is no shame in asking for help.”
“JCCA is entrusted by ACS with caring for the second most teenagers among the fostering agencies in NYC. Our extensive experience working with young people who have been commercially sexually exploited confirms that they are especially vulnerable to the sinister manipulation used by predators. This comic book offers an important tool to add to our arsenal,” said JCCA CEO Ronald E. Richter.
“ECPAT-USA's entire mission for the last 25 years has been aimed at protecting children from sexual exploitation,” said ECPAT-USA Executive Director Carol Smolenski. “We know we can't do it alone. We value our partnerships with ACS, Cause Vision, JCCA and so many other organizations because working together we have already made strides to create a world in which no child is bought or sold for sex.”
“Cause Vision’s approach for fights against human trafficking is prevention by educating vulnerable population about human trafficking. We use manga comic, that is a popular medium, to ensure children and teenagers to read through the stories, and learn embedded messages,” said Cause Vision’s founder Natsuko Utsumi. We are very pleased that our book ‘Where Is Dylan’ will be disseminated to the children of New York City thanks to the partnerships with ACS and ECPAT-USA.”
Where Is Dylan? was developed and created by Cause Vision with ECPAT-USA as part of its comic book series on human trafficking. ACS purchased the comic book using funds from the Safe Harbour grant and will distribute it, along with guidelines for its use created in collaboration with ACS, throughout our partnering foster care networks. ECPAT-USA will also ensure that the comic book gets into the hands of at-risk youth through its Youth Against Child Trafficking Program.
Sexual exploitation of children can happen anywhere in the world, and continues to be an issue within New York City. While some believe that human trafficking only happens in other countries, or that it involves children being snatched off the streets, this is not always the case. When a young person self-reports or is identified as sexually exploited, it is important that they are treated as victims of abuse and not viewed as criminals.
The Administration for Children’s Services is diligently working to shift that perception adding special training on Human Trafficking to the curriculum for incoming Child Protective Specialist (CPS) workers. Anyone doing frontline work with ACS must be able to identify the signs of a sex-trafficking victim.
In addition, ACS’ Office of Child Trafficking Prevention and Policy provided trafficking trainings for 3,600 social welfare professionals in 2016, and has partnered with faith-based community organizations to implement the “Not On My Watch” campaign citywide.
ACS has also developed a Child Trafficking Mailbox which provides a vehicle for ACS and provider agency staff to send notifications of trafficked children, ask questions, request resources and receive case practice guidance, and to work with other youth-serving agencies and partners to identify and intervene where there is suspected trafficking. Last year, over 170 children were identified, and the agency intervened.
Through the Safe Harbour program, the City of New York has served 2,500 exploited or at risk for exploitation youth in 2016 providing therapy, crisis beds, and transitional living, among other preventive services. The Safe Harbour programs provided services to engage and educate exploited youth and assist with risk reduction through the use of internships, counseling groups, and outreach efforts.