Human Trafficking Prevention Resource Guide
Schools, school employees, parents, and caregivers play an important role in helping to prevent human trafficking of children and youth.
Although human trafficking is not always at the forefront of issues impacting our young people, the FBI identified San Diego as one of the top 13 high-intensity child prostitution areas in the nation.
There are several ways educators and families can raise awareness and prevent human trafficking and also know the signs to be able to report human trafficking and save lives.
SKIP TO SECTION
Human Trafficking in San Diego County
A local groundbreaking study found the average age of entry into San Diego's underground commercial sex economy is 16 years old. Students as young as the 7th grade are being targeted and recruited into human trafficking.
San Diego County sees higher activity due to our region being a place favored for conferences and other large events that draw thousands of people from across the world. The San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force holds operations throughout the year that highlight the demand and the lucrative nature of the commercial sex economy. During Operation Better Pathways, held in February 2023, 48 individuals were arrested for alleged human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and other criminal offenses.
Definition of Human Trafficking
Federal law defines human trafficking as the exploitation of a person through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of forced labor, commercial sex, or both. Victims of human trafficking include adults and children.
According to anti-human trafficking data hub Polaris, the Action-Means-Purpose (AMP) Model can be helpful to understand the federal law. Human trafficking occurs when a perpetrator, often referred to as a trafficker, takes an Action (induces, recruits, harbors, transports, provides), and employs the Means of force, fraud, or coercion for the Purpose of compelling the victim to provide commercial sex acts (sex trafficking) or labor/services (labor trafficking). At a minimum, one element from each area must be present to establish a potential situation of human trafficking.
Support for Districts and Schools
County offices of education, districts, schools, and charters are encouraged to engage staff members, students, and families in learning about human trafficking and how it occurs. To assist in the effort to keep young people safe, the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) offers trainings and has curated resources to raise awareness about human trafficking.
The SDCOE Human Trafficking of Children webpage provides details on the Project Safe from Exploitation (SAFE) human trafficking prevention education program as well as regional information and referral organizations, resources for schools, and tools for families.
How to Safely Seek Assistance
To get help for yourself or someone else, or to report activity that may be related to human trafficking:
This 24-hour, 7-day-a-week hotline is operated by The National Human Trafficking Resource Center/Polaris Project and supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Call specialists can connect victims with local law enforcement and social service providers who can help them get out of exploitative situations and into safe environments where they have access to services, such as emotional support, health care, and legal services.
Resources for Educators
Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act
In October 2017, California became the first state to adopt human trafficking prevention education training for teachers and students (Assembly Bill 1227: Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act).
AB 1227 (2017) amended Sections 51934 and 51950 of the Education Code. AB 1227 became effective on Jan. 1, 2018, and requires that all students in grades 7 through 12 receive comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education — including human trafficking prevention education — from instructors trained in the appropriate courses. Each student must receive this instruction at least once in junior or middle school and at least once in high school. Information on human trafficking must include the following:
- Prevalence of human trafficking
- Nature of human trafficking
- Strategies to reduce the risk of human trafficking
- Techniques to set healthy boundaries
- How to safely seek assistance
As part of meeting the requirements of Section 51934 that education be provided by instructors trained in the appropriate courses, as defined in Section 51931, “continuation training shall be available and conducted periodically to enable school district personnel to learn about new developments in the understanding of abuse, including sexual abuse, and human trafficking, and to receive instruction on current prevention efforts and methods.”
All educators and school personnel are mandated reporters and required to complete annual training. For members of the Risk Management Joint Powers Authority (JPA), mandated reporter training is available.
School-Based Prevention Education Programs
These anti-trafficking programs combine education with targeted, interactive interventions to protect children from exploitation.
- PROTECT (Prevention Organized to Educate Children on Trafficking): PROTECT is a powerful prevention education program with an age-appropriate K-12 curriculum for students, training and protocol resources for school staff, and a way to measure the impact in every community.
- kNOw MORE! is a student-centered human trafficking awareness and prevention curriculum for middle and high school children. It provides interactive multimedia training for students and their families. Through role-play, discussion and information, participants develop techniques to recognize the red flags and vulnerabilities around trafficking.
- Zion's Story is a new human trafficking prevention and awareness program for middle and high school youth, families, and communities. This one-of-a-kind creative and interactive experience cultivates awareness, empathy, and action while at the same time building community and connection within the participating group. The program takes a holistic approach to prevention by addressing vulnerabilities and root causes that lead to trafficking.
- Not a Number is an interactive child trafficking and exploitation prevention curriculum designed to provide youth with information and skills in a manner that inspires them to make safe choices. Youth learn to identify and utilize healthy support systems that may decrease their vulnerabilities.
Human Trafficking School Safety Protocols
Created by SDCOE, Human Trafficking Safety Protocols (HTSSPs) align with state mandated reporting laws and ensure that vulnerable or actual victims of human trafficking are referred to services or programs intended to reduce further victimization. These protocols, which address both sex and child labor trafficking, provide guidance in several areas:
- Respond to suspected/confirmed cases of human trafficking and other forms of violence;
- Address direct student disclosures and reports from others that are culturally and linguistically responsive, person-centered, and trauma informed;
- Protect and maintain confidentiality of students and staff;
- Coordinate with the appropriate authorities (e.g., child welfare, law enforcement) when potential victims are identified;
- Communicate with parents, guardians, and caregivers regarding concerns that their child has experienced human trafficking;
- Identify referring and vetting referral services and maintain and update victim referrals;
- Engage or re-engage students who have experienced human trafficking and have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing chronic truancy or falling behind;
- Collect and report data about the number of victims identified through training of students, educators, and other staff; and
- Monitor school community compliance with the HTSSPs.
The Administration of Children and Families toolkit also offers a detailed guidance and resources to help schools and districts build or enhance their own protocols.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Protocols
To help prevent incidents of sexual exploitation of children, SDCOE and educational partners developed the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Recommended Protocols for Schools, which provides information about student risk factors, recommended protocols, and reporting guidelines.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Human Trafficking in America's Schools also offers guidance to identify children at risk, how professional development of school staff and prevention education for students and families can reduce the likelihood of trafficking, and other policies and protocols to help prevent trafficking.
Support for After-School Programs
SDCOE offers the following resources to support after-school and extracurricular programs in learning more about human trafficking.
- Project ROOTS is an after-school program that addresses the root causes of gender-based violence, exploitation, and unhealthy relationships through group mentoring and social and emotional learning.
- KidSmartz is a child safety program that educates families about preventing abduction and empowers kids in grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors.
- How To Talk to Youth About Human Trafficking: A Guide for Youth Caretakers and Individuals Working with Youth is a free resource designed for any adult who is a caretaker of a youth or individuals who work with youth through formal or informal programming. This guide was created with a focus on middle and high school youth, from ages 11 to 17.
- A21’s Education website contains resources for K-12 educators, parents/caregivers, and children. These resources are available to download at no cost.
Resources for Parents and Caregivers
Parents and caregivers play a significant role in preventing human trafficking. Knowing the signs is an important first step in prevention. Many of the resources for educators listed above also may be helpful to parents and caregivers.
I Am Jasmine Strong provides resources for parents and caregivers around prevention, including how to have foundational conversations with children about preventing sex trafficking, as well as tips for supporting teens involved in trafficking. KidSmartz is a child safety program that educates families about preventing abduction and empowers kids in grades K-5 to practice safe behaviors.
Human Trafficking Prevention Resources
- San Diego County District Attorney's Office: Learn more about human trafficking, how to identify signs of those involved, who’s impacted, how to stay safe, and how to report concerns.
- California Department of Education
- U.S Department of Education
- Polaris: Serves as a data hub for the anti-human trafficking field, providing key data to deepen knowledge and understanding. The Polaris-operated U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline receives an increasing number of calls from victims and survivors reaching out for help.
More to explore
Rocky Herron spent years taking down drug traffickers, seizing methamphetamine and illicit pills coming across the border and investigating doctors who wrote prescriptions in exchange for money.
Now he talks to schoolchildren.
SDCOE is hosting a series of community forums starting in January to get input from parents, students, and other educational partners that will help guide the development of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for its Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) and its Special Education school, Friendship.
Canyon Crest Academy senior Aaron Combs was one of two high school students selected to represent California in the 62nd annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP).
SDCOE recently received a Golden Bell award for a suicide intervention toolkit to help educators support students with effective intervention.
The San Diego County Board of Education is accepting online applications for student board members now through Feb. 1 on the SDCOE student board member webpage.
The Juvenile Court and Community Schools student representative on the San Diego County Board of Education for November was M’Niya, a senior at San Pasqual Academy.