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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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

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 II of the report is as follows:


How Do I Identify a Victim of Human Trafficking?

Indicators that school staff and administrators should be aware of concerning a potential victim:
• Demonstrates an inability to attend school on a regular basis and/or has unexplained absences
• Frequently runs away from home
• Makes references to frequent travel to other cities
• Exhibits bruises or other signs of physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, depression, anxiety, or fear
• Lacks control over his or her schedule and/or identification or travel documents
• Is hungry, malnourished, deprived of sleep, or inappropriately dressed (based on weather conditions or surroundings)
• Shows signs of drug or alcohol addiction
• Has coached/rehearsed responses to questions

Additional signs that may indicate sex trafficking include:
• Demonstrates a sudden change in attire, personal hygiene, relationships, or material possessions
• Acts uncharacteristically promiscuous and/or makes references to sexual situations or terminology that are beyond age-specific norms
• Has a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” who is noticeably older
• Attempts to conceal recent scars, bruises, or any other forms of physical injury or trauma

Additional signs that may indicate labor trafficking include:
• Expresses need to pay off a debt
• Expresses concern for family members’ safety if he or she shares too much information
• Works long hours and receives little or no payment
• Cares for children not from his or her own family

How Do I Report a Suspected Incidence of Human Trafficking?

• In the case of an immediate emergency, call your local police department or emergency access number.
• To report suspected human trafficking crimes or to get help from law enforcement, call toll-free (24/7) 1-866-347-2423 or submit a tip online at www.ice.gov/tips.
• To report suspected trafficking crimes, get help, or learn more about human trafficking from a nongovernmental organization, call the toll-free (24/7) National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
• To report sexually exploited or abused minors, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST, or report incidents at http://www.cybertipline.org.

Resources and Publications

Information on human trafficking can also be found on the following Web sites:
• Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign
• National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
• National Human Trafficking Resource Center
• Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center
• United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
• U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Victims of Human Trafficking & Other Crimes



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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