MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morris County Office of Health Management in cooperation with a host of state, local and nonprofit groups, will host a special countywide community presentation on human trafficking, and its impact on this county and area of the state, on Wednesday evening in Morristown.
The forum, titled, “Invisible No More: Stop Human Trafficking,’’ will be held in the Morristown Town Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, with pre-registration suggested.
The goal of this presentation is to bring pertinent information to the community in Morris County, to help parents and community members better protect their children from becoming victims and to make their communities safer from predators. Experts will explain that while we think human trafficking is something that happens to people from other countries, there are children in our communities who are victimized.
Human trafficking occurs when a person is recruited, harbored, obtained or exported through force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of sexual or labor exploitation, involuntary servitude and other types of mental and physical abuse. The State Department estimates that 600,000-800,000 people are trafficked in the United States each year.
“Human trafficking is a cruel crime which most often targets the most vulnerable members of our communities. It strips victims of their most fundamental human rights and dignity,’’ said Carlos Perez, Jr, Health Officer for the Morris County Office of Health Management.
“The role of public health is to protect and promote the wellbeing of our communities through various interventions, including those that increase community awareness. It is through community-based health education programs that we hope to raise public awareness as it relates to this horrible crime and to ultimately protect our residents particularly those who may be at greatest risk.”
"Community education is key to fighting this heinous and pervasive crime,’’ said Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp. “These are not offenses that only happen overseas or in some other cities and counties; there are victims who are targeted and abused right here in Morris County. I highly encourage all members of the public to take advantage of this opportunity to learn how to see the unseen."
The Morris County Freeholders in January called attention to the issue, proclaiming January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in Morris County.
“I believe most people would be shocked and horrified to learn of the extent to which this form of human slavery exists,” said Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastrangelo.
“Human trafficking is a very serious crime whose victims are often women, children and men who do not speak or understand English, and who are sexually exploited or forced into labor.
These victims fall prey to traffickers who may threaten their lives and the lives of their families to prevent them from trying to escape or seek help.’’
Featured speakers at Wednesday’s forum will include:
Lynne Wilson-Bruchet, a victims’ assistance specialist with U.S. Homeland Security – ICE in Newark. She is an expert educator on understanding human trafficking and how victims may be helped, even if they were brought to this country illegally.
Edwin Torres, Special Agent for the New Jersey Commission on Investigation of Gangs and Human Trafficking, has a wealth of knowledge on trafficking in Morris County, and the connection of gangs to this problem.
“The Invisible No More: Stop Human Trafficking workshop is designed to educate the community on a fast-growing problem, but one that not many people are aware exists,’’ said Dr, Carlos Caprioli, program manager for the Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey and director of the Morris County Family Success Center.
“It is important that the community learn the steps needed to prevent human trafficking and be educated on the signs to look for if they encounter trafficking. It will teach them how to safely intervene to protect not only themselves but others. Awareness is the first crucial step in stopping human trafficking.’’
"Youth homelessness and human trafficking are huge issues within our communities,’’ added Jennifer Amaya, Director of Outreach and Prevention, Somerset Home for Temporarily Displaced Children. “According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in six reported runaways are likely sex-trafficking victims. Within 48 hours of hitting the street, a runaway will be approached by some in the in the trafficking ring,’’
To register for the program, call 973-620-9711.
For more information on human trafficking in New Jersey, visit: