Increase in Referrals for Missing & Exploited Youth
The CAC’s Support to End Exploitation Now (SEEN) team works 24/7/365 to prevent and respond to child trafficking and sexual exploitation. The team consists of a Program Manager, a Case Coordinator, and a Program Assistant. Together, they support and empower some of Suffolk County's most vulnerable youth.
Annually, SEEN receives more than 200 referrals for high-risk, sexually exploited, and trafficked youth – and that number continues to grow. In fact, when comparing 2022 and 2023 data, our SEEN program has witnessed an average increase of 68% in referrals per month for children at risk of sexual exploitation, year-over-year. As of August, SEEN has already received as many referrals as they did in all of 2022 – an all-time high.
It is possible that a number of factors are contributing to this increase, including:
- A rise in conditions that make exploitation possible, including increased time online which increases exposure to online harms and tech-based grooming, social isolation among the most marginalized youth, and systemic inequity.
- An increase in community awareness and education, resulting in identification of more child victims.
- Enhanced community understanding about the steps to take when concerns of exploitation are present.
While these numbers can feel alarming, our SEEN team is at the ready to provide high risk and exploited youth with a survivor-centered, trauma-informed response and specialized services to begin their healing journey.
Our Training and Outreach Team offers trainings to help caregivers, social workers, educators, and community members learn how to identify trafficking and exploitation and respond. To learn more about CAC trainings and to request a workshop, click here!