It’s Fall again and school is in full swing, and unfortunately so are the human traffickers that target young adults. According to the Human Trafficking Hotline’s 2019 data, it is estimated that from 22,000 records, 5,389 survivors were trafficked as minors. The number of trafficked minors is likely higher as Polaris reported an additional 15,000+ cases where the start of the human trafficking experience was unknown. It is not uncommon for traffickers to recruit directly from schools and other supposedly safe spaces that youth frequent such as malls, shelters, and parties. Sometimes, trafficking even starts at home, as in the instances of familial trafficking. Exploiters recruit and facilitate trafficking on social media platforms, websites, and apps. Again, they go where the kids go to connect and enjoy community, and where they often let their guard down with their peers. The stark reality that students can be trafficked is daunting and can be overwhelming. But as always where there is a challenge, there is opportunity. School communities can acknowledge the problem and work to be centers of activism and change. Students, faculty, and parents can serve as leaders, lifting their voices to help prevent human trafficking and work to ensure that it doesn’t happen on their local campus and beyond.
The NY Post recently featured a story about a 17 year old NYC high school student, Matthew Kodsi, who noticed disturbing red flags in a massage parlor. Having some understanding of the signs of human trafficking, he was able to identify something wasn’t right. And he took action. He acknowledges that without the education about how to detect signs of trafficking, the situation would not have been apparent to him and he would not have been compelled to help.
Preventative education should happen on a school level and vigilance can go a long way to creating safe communities. Lifeway urges you to be a part of the change. We have created a Student Club Activity Toolkit. If you are a student, parent, or teacher–you are positioned to catalyze the change needed. This club activity toolkit is your guide to get you started. We present you with a range of ideas and a variety of different activities which vary in length, time, nature, so you can find what might work best for your community.
This resource was developed by LifeWay’s Education Program, and a LifeWay Network volunteer, Carolina Lenzo, who is currently in high school and has worked diligently to bring human trafficking awareness to her school community.
Who can use this kit? Any school setting, but particularly if you belong to a club focused on issues such as human trafficking, gender equality, social justice, student governments; Fair Trade, and beyond, you can use this as a guide for raising awareness and inspiring your community.
We also offer training to accompany this kit, so please reach out to LifeWay here, and let’s work together to stop human traffickers in their tracks!!