Human Trafficking

Published: 12/7/2017 10:05 AM

Human trafficking is a rapidly growing crime -- a crime which often victimizes children who are missing. Kentucky’s location and major interstates make it a location conducive to the crime. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported that 86 percent (about 11,880) of the cases they worked with in 2015 were endangered runaways. One in five of these children were likely victims of sexual trafficking. This fact makes it critical that educators be aware of the reality of the crime. The efforts of collaborating state agencies, with schools being a primary partner, play an integral role in locating the child and potentially saving that child from a life of victimization.

Kentucky House Bill 524 amends KRS 156.095 to require public schools to display the National Human Trafficking Reporting Hotline, which is 1-888-373-7888. The National Hotline has created hotline outreach flyers available for download. The flyer is available in 20 different languages. The Office of Refugee Resettlement provides posters and brochures in several different languages that provide the hotline number as well as information about human trafficking.

What is human trafficking?
Human trafficking is the exploitation of another individual for labor and/or commercial sex though the use of fraud, force, or coercion, making it modern day slavery. Kentucky passed the Human Trafficking Victims Rights Act in 2013, which includes the “safe harbor” component that is aimed at protecting the youngest victims from prosecution and by mandating services for their recovery.
How many children are involved in human trafficking?
Children, unfortunately, are not exempt from this heinous crime. Rescue and Restore KY, a Catholic Charities of Louisville program reported that 332 trafficking victims have been identified since 2008. A startling 60% of these victims were children. A recent University of Louisville study, Youth Experience Survey (YES): Exploring the Scope and Complexity of Sex Trafficking in a Sample of Youth Experiencing Homelessness in Kentuckiana, found that 40% of homeless youth surveyed identified with being a victim of sex trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Hotline keeps an up-to-date count of the number of tips reported in Kentucky. Given that human trafficking is often overlooked and underreported because the crime is occurring on the margins of society and behind closed doors, the numbers are assumed to be substantially higher. A human trafficking victim could be sitting in a classroom in your district at this very moment.
What are the warning signs?
We as educators have a unique opportunity to safeguard our students from trafficking but most of us have little knowledge about the subject. Recognizing a victim is difficult because many of these red flags could apply to other situations such as drug abuse or homelessness. For more information about warning signs, see the websites listed below.
How do I report suspicions of human trafficking?
Every person who works in a school system has the potential to be an advocate for child victims of human trafficking. The U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published “Human Trafficking 101 for School Administrators and Staff” which can help educators identify potential trafficking victims. School personnel should then report suspected victimization. The National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) is an anonymous reporting tool that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Victoria Fields
Office of Continuous Improvement and Support
Division of Student Success
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-4772
Fax (502) 564-7820