Educate to Protect

schools should teach human trafficking education to prevent cases


McKenna Cole, Managing Editor

In the 2017 April Issue of The Tiger Print, an article was published detailing and exposing the presence of human trafficking in the local area. Since this release, no effort has been made on the district level to incorporate this topic into the classroom.

Human trafficking isn’t a usual topic of discussion. Due to its taboo nature, the matter is inadvertently ignored in the Overland Park community and across the nation.

In order to bring awareness and prevent potential cases of trafficking, a curriculum should be implemented in a place commonly targeted by traffickers— schools. The International Organization of Labour estimates that of the 40.3 million victims of human trafficking in 2016, 25% of them were children.

Step one: educate school faculty.

In an interview with The Tiger Print in 2017, Blue Valley High School principal Scott Bacon was presented with numerous facts about human trafficking in the local area, in which he confessed to having no knowledge of such activity.

While teachers are not expected to be experts on human trafficking, they should know what modern slavery is, how it affects their community, and how to recognize signs of victims.

Furthermore, staff should be a resource for students to ask questions and for victims to seek help, which would be possible if educated on the subject.

Step two: physically integrating a curriculum in all school systems.

Rather than a one-time assembly, districts should acquire human trafficking education in the classroom. Jeneé Littrell, the Administrator of Safe and Supportive Schools for the San Mateo County Office of Education, claims that for convenience human trafficking lessons naturally fit into lessons about slavery.

Littrell recommends schools actualize this criteria by adopting curriculum generated by organizations that specialize in human trafficking. Educators can utilize the lessons from organizations such as 3Strands Global Foundation, Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and Love146.

Step three: when discussing human trafficking with students, be aware of school culture.

No community or school system is immune to the epidemic of human trafficking. When conversing on this subject, educators should be mindful of emotional and physical safety of students. A seemingly innocent conversation with a possible victim could be putting their safety at risk.

Knowledge is power, and when such a young demographic is affected by human trafficking, it is important to equip them with that power.