Human Trafficking Summit Urges Educators to Look for Red Flags

Approximately 80% of humans trafficked in the U.S. are American, challenging the common belief that most victims are immigrants.

Experts, advocates and survivors came together at an event held earlier this week to discuss the realities of human trafficking in the United States and to provide solutions for impeding the epidemic.

The Human Trafficking Summit, hosted by Children At Risk and the Center for Safe and Secure Schools at the Harris County Department of Education in Houston on Nov. 5, included presentations from Children At Risk staff, Love People Not Pixels, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for Sex Crimes and Trafficking, human trafficking survivor Sandy Storm, and former U.S. Representative Ted Poe, a supporter of victims’ rights.

According to the Harris County Department of Education’s press release, an estimated 80% of humans trafficked in the U.S. are American. In Texas, nearly 900,000 children attend school within one mile of illegal massage businesses acting as fronts for human trafficking.

Johna Stallings from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office of Sex Crimes and Trafficking discussed Project 180, a local program that helps sexually exploited victims get away from their pimps and connects them with social services. Approximately 90% of the women helped have backgrounds of child sexual abuse, she added.

“Almost every single one of these women have been victimized,” she said. “There is an escalation of risky behavior, and after that, their self-worth diminishes.”

Stalling also discussed the district attorney office’s aggressive campaign to expose and prosecute sex buyers and sellers.

Jamie Caruthers, an attorney for Children At Risk, urged educators to keep an eye out for red flags exhibited by students, including:

  • Dramatic changes in behavior
  • Discussions of sexual activities that are not age-appropriate
  • Barcode or ownership tattoos
  • Physical signs of abuse and hesitance to explain injuries

“Our young students are being trafficked and raising the awareness of what to look for can literally be a life-or-death situation,” said Center for Safe and Secure Schools Director Julia Andrews.

For more information on human trafficking, visit www.childrenatrisk.org, www.lpnp.org or https://hcde-texas.org/safe-and-secure-schools.

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