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December/January 2022Vol. 22, No. 11New Primer for Schools on Preventing, Responding to, and Helping Students Recover From Human Traffic

A primer from the Office of Safe and Supportive Schools within the U.S. Department of Education about what constitutes child sex trafficking and labor trafficking and which populations are most vulnerable is now available. Students involved with child welfare are particularly vulnerable to trafficking because of their potentially unstable living situations, distance from familiar environments, and the trauma they have experienced that led to their child welfare involvement in the first place. The primer suggests that some school personnel should be trained more extensively about sex and labor trafficking-due to their proximity and level of interactions with students-and serves as an introduction to how schools and social service providers can help survivors.

Each of the populations mentioned in the primer (e.g., runaway youth, homeless youth, youth involved with child welfare) have different reasons for their increased vulnerability to trafficking, and while not all have the same level of risk, it is important to remember that many of these populations can overlap with one another. However, an absence of risk factors does not automatically mean that child is not trafficked, and the guide emphasizes the importance of school staff being aware of this and working to overcome any personal bias or stereotypes.

In addition, the guide also covers the following:

  • Trafficking in urban, suburban, and rural areas
  • Impact on the student and learning environment
  • Child trafficking prevention at the school level
  • Community partnerships
  • School policies and protocols
Prevention is explored through a tier system based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' paradigm for trafficking prevention and multilevel approaches developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first tier focuses on primary prevention through the following:
  • Training staff on risk factors and indicators
  • Helping children develop skills to reduce their risk of victimization 
  • Developing policies for response, a safe climate, and family education
The second tier focuses on identifying and responding to trafficking, and the third discusses trauma-informed treatment and recovery for those who have been trafficked.