Prevention Outreach Program
The Facts on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)/Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC):
100,000-300,000 American minors are believed to be at risk for sexual exploitation, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
North Carolina is consistently ranked in the Top Ten States as to prevalence of Human Trafficking.
The average age an American minor is first exploited is 12-14 years old. (6th-9th grade)
Of the 563 calls made to the Human Trafficking Hotline from NC in 2014, only 7 of those were made by school staff. (Unfortunately, we can’t update this statistic, as Polaris no longer breaks down the calls this way.) We believe this indicates a need for more training of school personnel to recognize signs of Human Trafficking. As we speak to groups that include teachers and other school personnel, many of them are stunned to learn that students in their schools are potential victims.
History of the Prevention Outreach Program
Because of a generous grant, we were able to hire a full-time Prevention Outreach Coordinator in 2014. She went into schools and caught a 5-session Human Trafficking Prevention Curriculum to middle school and high school students in Pitt County, NC.
During the 2014-15 school year, we piloted the Prevention Outreach Program and reached 470 students. The response from both students and teachers was positive, and we were invited by Pitt County Schools to share the curriculum with all middle school and high school health classes the following school year.
During the 2015-16 school year, we taught 1781 students at 6 high schools and 2 middle schools our 5 session Prevention Curriculum.
In October 2015, the North Carolina Legislature passed legislation requiring that sex trafficking awareness and prevention be included in sexual education in public schools in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the legislature did not provide any funds to support this addition to the curriculum.
Our nonprofit wants to help as many school systems as possible comply with this mandate, so we changed our Prevention Outreach Strategy. We reached out to school systems in Eastern North Carolina offering to train their health teachers, counselors, social workers and any other school staff about Human Trafficking.
We encourage counselors, social workers and nurses to attend the training, so they will be able to recognize the signs of human trafficking and know how to respond to a possible victim.
The health teachers receive the normal two-hour school staff training (see below), plus an additional hour of curriculum training.
Hour 1: Human Trafficking 101: What is Human Trafficking? What does it look like in North Carolina? What is the law in NC? We also teach some of the key vulnerabilities, so these adults can be aware and possibly intervene before a child is victimized.
Hour 2: This part of the training is more specific to the group being trained; we study cases that happened in their area of expertise. For example, when training school personnel, we discuss cases that a teacher discovered, or a School Resource Officer discovered. We’ll highlight Red Flags and warning signs that their specific profession would be likely to notice. For instance, change in friends/dress/behavior at school, someone different picking them up from school, or a much older boyfriend. We also discuss the appropriate response when human trafficking is suspected.
Hour 3: Discussion of the curriculum
We’ve trained 6 school districts, and have more planned for teacher training days during the school year.
We provide the health teachers with a CD that contains the 5 Prevention Outreach Project lessons, as well as support materials and resources.
We are building on the success of the Prevention Outreach Program we experienced during the past two school years.
- Teach the students methods gangs/pimps/traffickers use to entice and manipulate them into the sex trade.
- Educate about how pornography is related to prostitution and sex trafficking. This is a “demand reduction” strategy. (Also share research about how harmful it is to the person watching the porn.)
- Discuss the meaning of “consent” and empower teenagers to value themselves and have control over their bodies.
- Healthy relationships. We also want them to respect boundaries, and not try to exert control over others.
- Talk about the dangers of running away, even from an unsafe situation. (Encourage students to talk to a trusted adult first to make a plan to find a safe place to stay.)