Combatting Human Trafficking in America’s Schools
Of 22,326 trafficking victims and survivors identified through contacts with the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2019, at least 5,359 were under age 18.1 Many underage victims of human trafficking are students in the American school system. No community, school, socioeconomic group, or student demographic is immune to the threat of human trafficking. Cases of child trafficking are found in every area of the country—in rural, suburban, and urban settings alike.
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes these facts and stands ready to support America’s schools in preventing, responding to, and helping students recover from human trafficking. It is fitting that schools take on this challenge; of all social institutions, schools are perhaps the best positioned to identify and report suspected trafficking and connect affected students to critical services.
To support schools’ efforts to combat trafficking, the Department offers helpful resources. for administrators, teachers, specialized instructional support personnel, parents, caregivers, and students
- Human Trafficking in America’s Schools, 2nd Edition (2021). This guide provides:
- Awareness of the current prevalence of child trafficking and the forms it takes;
- Information on risk factors and indicators of child trafficking;
- Details about three prevention tiers and the implications for schools’ role in addressing child trafficking;
- Information on how professional development of school staff and prevention education for students and families can reduce the likelihood of trafficking; and
- Details on how policies, protocols, and partnerships with other community sectors can help prevent trafficking.
- Human Trafficking in America’s Schools (2015). This guide was developed to help school officials:
- Understand how human trafficking impacts schools;
- Recognize the indicators of possible child trafficking; and
- Develop policies, protocols, and partnerships to address and prevent the exploitation of children.
- Addressing the Growing Problem of Domestic Sex Trafficking in Minors through Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (2021). Particularly relevant to schools or districts currently utilizing multi-tiered systems of supports, this resource provides information on how to utilize such existing support strategies to support students impacted by sex trafficking.
- Identifying and Supporting Students Affected by Human Trafficking (January 2020): This event focused on how to effectively identify and support students impacted by trafficking activity.
- Human Trafficking: Online Safety (June 2020): This event focused on trauma-informed and survivor-centered strategies for protecting students from falling prey to online trafficking activity.
- Addressing Human Trafficking: An Expanded Look at Online Safety (August 2020): This event provided additional tips and strategies for school staff members in addressing human trafficking from subject matter experts who work directly with survivors of trafficking and those who support them addressed questions compiled from the June 2020 webinar on online safety.
- Addressing Human Trafficking: Supporting Vulnerable Populations and Effectively Reintegrating Students (January 2021): This webinar focused on efforts communities have taken to address the needs of particularly vulnerable populations and strategies they have employed to reintegrate students into the educational setting after extraction from trafficking.
1Polaris Project. (2020). 2019 data report: The US National Human Trafficking Hotline. Washington, DC: Author. https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Polaris-2019-US-National-Human-Trafficking-Hotline-Data-Report.pdf