Rep. Susan Davis Unveils Initiative to Protect Children and Combat Sex Trafficking
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced bipartisan legislation to combat sex trafficking. The Empower Educators to Prevent Trafficking Act (H.R. 2268) will help school districts train school staff to detect the signs that children are falling victims to sex trafficking.
“Our educators not only want their schools to be a place of learning but also a place where our children are safe,” said Davis, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “Local school districts are setting the standard for creating programs to detect the signs that may lead to their students becoming victims of sex trafficking. The federal government should help them.”
Davis’s bill would authorize grants to help school districts establish a program if one doesn’t already exist, expand an existing program, and receive continued support for their efforts to train school staff.
These programs will train a variety of school employees, including teachers, counselors, campus security, nurses, and administrators. The programs will address:
- Indicators that an individual is a victim or potential victim of sex or labor trafficking.
- Options and procedures for referring students to information on trafficking and legal, social, and health services for victims of trafficking.
- Reporting requirements and procedures, according to federal and state law.
- Training students on how to avoid becoming victims of labor and sex trafficking.
Schools will also develop a plan, in consultation with local law enforcement, to ensure the safety of employees and students when instances of trafficking are reported.
The grant program will prioritize qualified applications from school districts operating in what the FBI has designated “High-Intensity Child Sex Trafficking Areas”—San Diego, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Tampa, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, New York City, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis.
Currently, federally funded programs provide similar training to local law enforcement, social workers, child welfare officials, first responders, healthcare workers, and various other professionals who may come into contact with trafficking victims.
Schools can be a prime recruiting site for sex traffickers. Experts have told Davis that teacher education is a missing piece in the coordinated efforts to stop sex trafficking.
Teachers and other school employees are particularly well positioned to recognize and respond to signs of trafficking in their students, and with proper training, they can be an important line of defense in the fight against child trafficking.
Each year, there are an estimated eight to eleven thousand victims of sex trafficking in San Diego County. The average age of entry into sex trafficking is 14 to 15.
The Empower Educators to Prevent Trafficking Act has been endorsed by the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, Polaris Project, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking, and ECPAT-USA.