Rep. Susan Davis Unveils New Initiative to Protect Children and Combat Sex Trafficking
SPRING VALLEY, CA – Flanked by representatives from the California Department of Justice, the Sherriff’s Department, the San Diego Police Department, and local advocates, U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) announced a new initiative to combat sex trafficking.
Davis crafted the Empower Educators to Prevent Trafficking Act to 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.”
Joining Davis in announcing the bill was Summer Stephan, Chief Deputy District Attorney and Chair of the Human Trafficking Task Force; Barbara Warner, Collaborative Coordinator, Spring Valley Youth and Family Coalition; Marisa Ugarte, Executive Director, Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition; Jamie Quient, Co-Chair, Lawyers Club of San Diego Human Trafficking Taskforce; Walter Philips, Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Youth Services; Special Agent Sara Marie Campbell, California Department of Justice Bureau of Investigation.
Davis’s bill would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Office on Trafficking in Persons, to award grants to school districts to establish a program if one doesn’t already exist, expand an existing program, and receive continued support for their efforts to train school staff.
School districts in areas designated by the FBI with high levels of child sex trafficking would be given priority in the distribution of grant money.
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.
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.