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Local event aims to stop human trafficking in the Southern Tier

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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) - Local leaders are planning an event to spread awareness of human trafficking and ways the community can help stop it.

The Southern Tier Human Trafficking Task Force is hosting an event Friday called "It Takes a Village," with the goal of educating parents, adults, and teenagers about how to protect their community from predators.

"It's not just something that's happening cross country. It's here in Broome County, it's everywhere," said Southern Tier Human Trafficking Task Force co-chair, Christine Battisti. "In 2019, we have 21 confirmed victims of trafficking which are under the age of 18 here in Broome County, which the federal definition is anytime a youth engages in a commercial sex act and there is something of value exchanged for that act."

The event will include a presentation from the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force and a speaker from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, along with a question and answer session.

Organizer's say this year's event will focus on the youth; teaching the common signs that someone may be a victim.

The Task Force says the event is always filled with people ready to learn about the evolving crime happening around the world.

"They want to know how to help. They want to know what they can do if they happen to see signs or are suspicious of something. What can they be empowered to do to be a part of the solution," said the executive director of the Life Choices Center, Michelle Brown.

Members of the task force say they also want teenagers to take part in the discussion and education.

"If they come to an understanding to where the risks are and how the perpetrators are behaving, then they also can be a part of the protection. They are right in the midst of it and they can be leaders within their own peer group," said Brown.

"We need more education, we need to talk about this issue we need people to know in every organization, that's why we are saying it takes a village," said Battisti.

"It Takes a Village" will be at Calvary's Love church in Johnson City on Friday January 24 from 6 P.M. until 9 P.M.

Organizers say due to the nature of the topic, they ask participants to be ages 13 years or older.

Tyler Brown

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