Eight school districts across the country received $4.3 million in awards to develop and implement programs to prevent human trafficking victimization. The Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Education Demonstration Program, awarded by the Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP) in consultation with the Department of Education and the Department of Labor, is one of the first federal programs specifically designed to build resiliency to human trafficking in children and youth.
The new three-year program will support the school districts as they work with local partners to create and implement strategies to deliver prevention education and skills-based training to students and school staff. Each school district grantee will establish and implement a Human Trafficking School Safety Protocol for handling suspected and confirmed cases of human trafficking.
“We know traffickers are proactively targeting youth online through peer recruitment and other deceptive schemes,” said Katherine Chon, Director of OTIP. “With appropriate training, schools are in a unique position to build up protective factors that reduce a student’s risk of becoming a trafficking victim as well as intervene early to prevent further trauma resulting from their exploitation. We are thrilled to work closely with school districts as they undertake this important effort.”
The following school districts are recipients of the FY2020 Human Trafficking Youth Prevention Education Demonstration Program awards:
- Brentwood Union Free School District, Brentwood, N.Y., $525,052
- DeKalb County School District, Stone Mountain, Ga., $600,000
- Fort Worth Independent School District, Fort Worth, Texas, $600,000
- Granite School District, Salt Lake City, Utah, $497,996
- Kent Intermediate School District, Grand Rapids, Mich., $500,000
- Los Angeles County Office of Education, Downey, Calif., $561,358
- Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, Calif., $507,847
- San Diego County Office of Education, San Diego, Calif., $575,207
Human trafficking is a public health issue that negatively affects the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. More than 63,000 cases of human trafficking have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline; every U.S. state has reported cases. Children and youth are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking, especially those who have experienced:
- prior abuse,
- housing and economic instability,
- shame and stigma
The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2018 authorized a new grant program for local education agencies. The program is designed to educate school staff and teachers to recognize and respond to signs of human trafficking and to provide age-appropriate information to students on how to avoid victimization.
The Office on Trafficking in Persons (OTIP), located within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, develops strategies, policies, and programs to prevent human trafficking, build health and human service capacity to respond to human trafficking, increase victim identification and access to services, and strengthen health and well-being outcomes of trafficking survivors.