Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How a New State Human-Trafficking Law Could Help Victims and Efforts to Protect Them

The McMahon-Ryan Center assists human-trafficking victims in Central New York
The McMahon-Ryan Center assists human-trafficking victims in Central New York

A new state measure designed to help those forced into prostitution or other forms of human tracking cold be more effective if it expanded funding to help the victims, according to experts in Central New York. When you think of human trafficking, you might not think it’s a problem here in Central New York but, it is. The McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Center helps victims find safety and deal with trauma and other repercussions.

Last week Governor Kathy Hochul passed new legislation that requires law enforcement to inform the victims about the social and legal services available to them.

Upon encountering a person who reasonably appears to be or says they are a victim of human trafficking, law enforcement personnel must advise the victim of the availability of social and legal services specific to human trafficking cases. The agency will offer to connect the victim with the appropriate provider, unless the individual declines the services.

McMahon-Ryan Executive Director Colleen Merced explains they already partner with law enforcement… and the sharing of that type of information is nothing new.

“Currently we have two advocates that strictly work with human-trafficking victims and those types of victims tend to need lots of services.  They also take up a lot of time in regards to case management.  So, what we’re hoping for is that with this new legislation will come funding.” 

Hochul, in a release, says the measure should help get social and legal services to victims more quickly.

"Human trafficking is a global epidemic and we must do all we can to end these horrible crimes here in New York," Governor Hochul said. "It is not enough to just put laws in place to prevent trafficking -- we must prioritize supporting survivors and ensure they have the legal and social services resources they need to recover from such a tragic experience."

The McMahon-Ryan Center works with youth trafficked up to 21 years of age and as young as 7 or 8 years-old. Some perpetrators take photos of the victims and then sell them online as pornography. Merced says human trafficking of youth happens frequently in Central New York and often starts out innocently.

“Specifically, in our area, a lot of these youths … will meet a perpetrator online.  They begin forming a relationship, sometimes a friendship.  That person gains their trust and then they think maybe this person is their boyfriend.  They start to meet up and that’s when they start getting trafficked.”

She adds that domestic human trafficking is also on the rise where adult women get addicted to drugs and alcohol and can’t break out of the cycle of being bought and sold and are mainly used repeatedly to produce pornography. The McMahon-Ryan Child Advocacy Center often finds that youth who are trafficked have a history of sexual or child abuse. More information is at

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.
Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.