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Education & Statistics
Human Trafficking in America's Schools {A Report from the U.S. Department of Education}
Education & Statistics

As a part of Operation Backpack, a campaign to raise awareness and gather school supplies for survivors in need, O.U.R. wanted to bring awareness to what schools can do to prevent and help students healing from human trafficking. 

The following information is based on a report from the Department of Education titled “Human Trafficking In America’s Schools”.

How can schools prevent and respond to human trafficking? 

There are three main tiers that schools can utilize to help assist their students on their healing journey, as outlined in this report

Primary Tier: Prevention

Policy: Develop policies for recognizing the signs of human trafficking and putting protocols in place to report said scenarios. Also, create an atmosphere of peer-reporting and self-reporting approaches to create a culture of safety and awareness. 

Students: Provide students with human trafficking education and prevention materials, relationship education, internet safety, after-school programs, and mentorship opportunities. 

Staff: Have all staff enroll in human trafficking training to notice the signs and indicators that may be present in students throughout the school. 

Secondary Tier—Responding to Trafficking

Equip the staff with a protocol to potentially identify students entrapped in human trafficking and lean on the help of law enforcement and social service specialists to take the right form of action to rescue the student. 

Tertiary Tier—Treatment, Recovery, and Reintegration 

Refer survivors to specialized aftercare therapy and develop an ongoing healing plan to help support the survivor in all areas of life. 

A Sample Protocol for Schools

Here is a sample protocol from the Department of Education’s report to give insight into what a school and it’s employees can do if they suspect a child is being trafficked.

  1. “Based on your observations of or interactions with the student over time, you believe indicators of sex or labor trafficking are present. 
  2. Discuss your suspicions with the staff person designated to handle human trafficking cases, ideally a specially trained school counselor or licensed social worker. The counselor will engage with the student and conduct a safety and trafficking assessment.
  3. Depending on the information gathered and state law, the counselor may contact child protection services and/or law enforcement. 
  4. The designated counselor, working with the vice principal, school resource officer, or other specially trained staff, investigates and responds to potential campus impacts, such as involvement of other students as victims or perpetrators. 
  5. The designated counselor offers the student (and family members, if indicated) a supported referral to local service providers specializing in trafficking. If specialists are not available locally, referrals should be to domestic violence, sexual assault, or child assessment agencies. 
  6. The designated counselor engages in educational planning with the survivor and provides ongoing trauma-informed support if the student wishes to return to school.”

We hope this information provides insight into what your child’s school could be doing to help prevent human trafficking and exploitation. 

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