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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In Our Midst: Human Trafficking in US Schools (Part I)

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. According to the U.S. Department of Education (2013), federal law defines human trafficking as including: “(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or (B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery” [U.S.C. §7102(8)]. Moreover, those who recruit minors into commercial sexual exploitation “violate federal anti-trafficking laws, even if there is no force, fraud, or coercion” (ED, 2013, n.p.).

A report issued by the Office of Safe and Healthy Students summarizes the literature on the scope and severity of human trafficking of children within the United States. Moreover, the report details the grave effects that human trafficking has on U.S. school systems, while offering suggestions for identifying and reporting suspected human trafficking situations.

Part I of the report is as follows:


What Is the Extent of Human Trafficking in the United States?

An unknown number of U.S. citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country for sexual servitude and forced labor. Contrary to a common assumption, human trafficking is not just a problem in other countries. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and the U.S. territories. Victims of human trafficking can be children or adults, U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, male or female.

Common examples of identified child trafficking cases include:
• Commercial sex
• Stripping
• Pornography
• Forced begging
• Magazine crews
• Au pairs or nannies
• Restaurant work
• Hair and nail salons
• Agricultural work
• Drug sales and cultivation

How Does Human Trafficking Affect Our Schools?

Trafficking can involve school-age youth, particularly those made vulnerable by challenging family situations, and can take a variety of forms including forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation.

The children at risk are not just high school students—pimps or traffickers are known to prey on victims as young as 9. Traffickers may target minor victims through social media websites, telephone chat-lines, after-school programs, at shopping malls and bus depots, in clubs, or through friends or acquaintances who recruit students on school campuses.



U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students. (2013). Human trafficking of children in the United States. Retrieved from U.S. Department of Education website: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oese/oshs/factsheet.html

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