Useful guidelines for teachers providing prevention education lessons.

Walking Prey (Palgrave Macmillan) Addendum School Teachers and School Counselors

Child Sex Trafficking: Education and Prevention Curricula Guidelines I. INTRODUCTION

Dear school teachers and school counselors,

First, thank you so much for all your work with children and youth. As a child, my teachers and counselors played very influential roles in my life. I remember almost every teacher I ever had, from Mrs. Heikel in kindergarten to Mr. Zalinsky in my senior year. School teachers and counselors are vital not only to the academic welfare of children but also to their physical, mental, and emotional states of well-being. You help set the foundation for children to become healthy and successful adults. This is the reason I dedicated my book, Walking Prey, to you. I believe in you because my teachers and counselors all believed in me.

Second, thank you for wanting to educate and warn your students about the issue of child sex trafficking. As a teenager, I had never heard of human trafficking; and I had no idea I was being courted by a sex trafficker in the summer between eighth grade middle school and ninth grade high school. Had I known, I might have recognized the tactics this man used to befriend me and then to lure me away from home. As a survivor advocate, I would like to offer advice on how to educate your students on human trafficking and how to prevent child sex trafficking because I believe those two goals require different approaches.

Before we get into the details of how to educate your students on human trafficking, it’s important for you – the teacher or counselor – to be proficient on the topic. In the Introduction chapter of my book, Walking Prey, I discuss the basics of human trafficking as defined by U.S. legislation. I then discuss the basics of child sex trafficking. Please read at least this chapter before moving forward. It’s important for you to be able to distinguish between the terms human trafficking, sex trafficking, labor trafficking, child sex trafficking, commercial sex acts, and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC).

As a teacher or counselor, it’s also important for you to know potential signs of sex trafficking among your students. As we learned from the case of Minh Dang, former Executive Director of Don’t Sell Bodies, and Theresa Flores, author of The Slave Across the Street, many victims attend school while actively being trafficked by family members, pimps, or gang members. Signs of family-controlled sex trafficking might look similar to signs of sexual abuse; and signs of pimp- or gang-controlled sex trafficking might look similar to signs of intimate partner violence/domestic violence. If anyone in your school speaks to students about sexual abuse, domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, gang violence, and/or healthy relationships, be sure they are knowledgeable on the topic of human trafficking as well.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign offers the following “red flags,” or indicators, that “can help alert school administrators and staff to a human trafficking situation.” Although recognizing the signs is the first step in identifying potential victims, the Blue Campaign warns that no single indicator is necessarily proof of human trafficking.

©2014 Holly Smith

Walking Prey (Palgrave Macmillan) Addendum

Behavior or Physical State Indicators:

  • Does the student have unexplained absences from school, or has the student demonstratedan inability to attend school on a regular basis?
  • Has the student suddenly changed his or her usual attire, behavior, or relationships?
  • Does the student suddenly have more (and/or more expensive) material possessions?
  • Does the student chronically run away from home?
  • Does the student act fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous andparanoid?
  • Does the student defer to another person to speak for him or her, especially duringinteractions with school authority figures (this may include an adult described by the

    student as a relative, but may also be a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend)?

  • Does the student show signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint,confinement, or other serious pain or suffering?
  • Has the student been deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care, or other lifenecessities?
  • Is the student in possession of his or her own identification documents (e.g. studentidentification card, driver’s license, or passport), or does someone else have them?

    Social Behavior Indicators:

  • Does the student have a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” who is noticeably older?
  • Is the student engaging in uncharacteristically promiscuous behavior, or makingreferences to sexual situations or terminology that are beyond age-specific norms?
  • Can the student freely contact friends, family, or his or her legal guardian?“These indicators are just a few that may alert you to a potential human trafficking situation,” states the Blue Campaign, “While no single indicator is necessarily proof of human trafficking, you can use this information to help you recognize relevant suspicious behavior(s) and take appropriate action.” For more information or to report potential trafficking, see the Blue Campaign’s Human Trafficking 101 for School Administrators and Staff.1


    Human trafficking is a global issue that affects men, women, and children. For this reason, human trafficking should be a topic of study in any global/social studies (or related) class in middle school, high school, or higher education. The United Nations defines h

    of exploiting them”. Such exploitation can be in the form of prostitution, forced labor, removal of organs, and other forms of exploitation. See the United Nations’ website for more information on global human trafficking: trafficking/index.html?ref=menuside.

    1 %20Human%20Trafficking%20101%20for%20School%20Administrators%20and%20Staff.pdf (accessed February 14, 2014)

©2014 Holly Smith