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Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román, and Deputy Counsel Norma Abbene Meet with the Mayor’s Office Survivors of Human Exploitation Working Group

Pictured above are participants in the August 14, 2013 meeting
First Row (L-R):
Ariel Zwang, Commissioner Ronald Richter, Susan Morley, Suzanne Tomatore, Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román, Deputy Counsel Norma Abbene, Dr. Loren Wissner Greene, Dr. Allen Keller; Second Row (L-R): Patrick Bryant, Dana Watters, Cheryl Hall, Jayne Bigelsen, Dr. Peggy McHugh, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Nachel Mathoda, Norman Greene, Ruchira Gupta, Debra Brown Steinberg, Marisa Senigo; Third Row: First Deputy Criminal Justice Coordinator Laurence Busching

The Mayor's Office Survivors of Human Exploitation Working Group met on August 14, 2013 at City Hall with Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román, and Deputy Counsel Norma Abbene in attendance. The meeting marked the third anniversary of the Working Group's empanelment by Deputy Mayor Robles-Román. The Working Group, led by Deputy Counsel Abbene, is tasked with making recommendations to the Mayor as to raising awareness of human trafficking in all its forms, creating protocols for protection of the most vulnerable populations, and recommending models of holistic environments for victim-centered survivor services. During the meeting, participants discussed ongoing anti-human trafficking training initiatives implemented by a broad array of city agencies and departments.

Susan Morley, of the Administration for Children Services (ACS), shared her experience on training, in partnership with Safe Horizon, nearly 700 employees, including 275 frontline staff members, on how to identify victims in their care. The training program developed into an agency-wide anti-human trafficking policy that includes providing safety and service planning for youth trafficked for commercial sex, identifying and engaging sex trafficked youth, and engaging with parents and caretakers of trafficked youth and with service providers.

Deputy Counsel Abbene spoke about the pilot project that brought human trafficking education to New York City Public Schools through the 100 Days to Freedom curriculum. She also shared her experience of a recent follow-up visit where it was clear that the students learned how to recognize and respond to human trafficking and that they have developed a greater interest in modern-day abolitionism.  . 

At the request of teachers and administrators, Cheryl Hall, of the NYC Department of Education (DOE), coordinated with the Frederick Douglass Family Initiative (FDFI) to provide voluntary training for DOE's youth development managers regarding identifying victims of human trafficking and FDFI's history-based 100 Days pilot project. This training took place on July 17, 2013 and featured presentations from the Department of Justice, ACS, the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Safe Horizon, and the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.  In all, 67 participants underwent training. Topics discussed included defining human trafficking, NYPD’s response to domestic minor sex trafficking, psychosocial profiles of trafficking victims, and what to do if they identify a potential victim. 

Other initiatives discussed at the Working Group meeting included a training tool for health care providers developed by the Working Group in partnership with Safe Horizon.  The NYC Health and Hospital Corporation provided the tool to its 11 emergency department teams and it is available on NYC’s Let's Call an End to Human Traffickingwebsite.  The Working Group also discussed Local Law 36, signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg in 2012, requiring the Taxi and Limousine Commission to train its more than 110,000 drivers about human trafficking.  This initiative was a recommendation from Working Group member Ruchira Gupta.
Deputy Mayor Robles-Román spoke about the work of the New York State Office of Court Administration, the Center for Court Innovation, and the New York Women's Foundation to evaluate how to best provide services for human trafficking victims who are already interacting with the court system but are not formally recognized as victims of exploitation.   

ACS Commissioner Ronald Richter discussed how ACS is collaborating with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the New York State  Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, numerous foster care and preventive service providers, and youth advocacy organizations to put into action its Safe Harbor plan in an effort to expand the City’s existing ability to serve young victims of sexual exploitation who are involved in the child welfare system.

Norman Greene updated the Working Group on the American Bar Association House of Delegate’s unanimous approval of the Uniform Law Commission’s (ULC) Uniform Act on Prevention of and Remedies for Human Trafficking. Section 15 of the Act recommends immunity from prosecution for prostitution offenses for persons less than 18 years of age.   Norman thanked Working Group members and ULC Observers Norma Abbene and Suzanne Tomatore for their input to the Commission during the drafting period.

Human exploitation is a worldwide phenomenon, and initiatives are shared by colleagues across continents. Oscar-winning actor Emma Thompson continues to support the Working Group with the goodwill, commitment, and practical action that have been the hallmark of the Working Group since its inception. Collaborating with Deputy Counsel Norma Abbene and Roland Le Breton from NYC Media, the official network of the City of New York, Ms. Thompson, from her home in London, re-recorded the 30-second PSA for the Let’s Call an End to Human Trafficking campaign so that the recording can be shared with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The recording will play at New York State Thruway Authority travel plazas throughout the state. Working Group member Dr. Mike Korzinski, a psychosocial expert who works with victims of extreme cruelty, including survivors of trafficking, in both the US and Europe acted as sound engineer for the effort.

Emma Thompson
Emma Thompson recording the PSA
in her living room on a Sunday afternoon

Mayor’s Office Survivors of Human Exploitation Working Group Members:

Honorary Member Emma Thompson

Norma Abbene

Jayne Bigelsen

Diana Brummer

First Deputy Criminal
Justice Coordinator
Laurence Busching

Kevin Curnin

Chief Advisor for Policy
and Planning John Feinblatt

Loren Wissner Greene, MD

Debra Brown Steinberg

Diana Taylor

Suzanne Tomatore

Norman Greene

Ruchira Gupta

Allen Keller, MD

Michael Korzinski, phD

Peggy Mchugh, MD

Commissioner Ronald Richter

Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román 

Kevin Ryan

Ariel Zwang

Patrick Bryant,
Of Counsel