WASHINGTON, DC, June 20, 2012 - When I learned Governor McDonnell signed bill 259 into effect, requiring Virginia schools to provide education on human trafficking to students, parents, counselors, and other school personnel, I was excited that schools were going to educate students about trafficking. As a parent, a survivor of trafficking and a former teacher, I could relate to this bill being signed into effect on many levels.
I wondered what class facts about human trafficking would be taught in?
Maybe sex education or health class, because such large percentage of human trafficking victims are trafficked for purposes of sex.
Trafficking could also be covered in history class. While teachers talk about the slave trade and Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist William Wilberforce, they can also address how students can help make sure modern day slavery – human trafficking – is eradicated. Teachers can lead discussions of Teachers can teach students about alternatives to running away from home and help them identify adults they can trust instead of running away. Run away children are targets for predators and traffickers who look for vulnerable children to traffic.
Social studies class might be the best class to cover the subject. In some countries like Moldova,one of Europe’s poorest countries, young people looking for jobs outside the country often fall prey to traffickers. The predators trick them into accepting jobs by posing as employment agencies. They advertise jobs for waitressed or bar tenders, but these jobs do not actuallyexist. Once in the foreign country, the trafficker takes the victim’s passport, making escape virtually impossible. This along with beatings and threats against the trafficked person’s family ensure that the victim will not try to escape. The vulnerable victim is trapped in a foreign country at the mercy of their traffickers. Often times even the police force is involved in making sure that the trafficked person does not escape. Border crossing personnel take bribes to help ensure that trafficking victims do not cross borders.
Teachers could cover human trafficking in a character development class, which is mandated in Virginia, although the approach to teach it is not. Teaching students about values and morals in the classroom is a touchy subject. Some teachers say they have enough to cover and that these subjects should be covered at home, but sometimes they are not. Teaching male students that women are not for sale would be a good start in educating young men while teaching them morals and values that are so important in life. Teaching young men that women are not for sale while they are in school is at least a start in the right direction.
Because trafficking is a 32 billion dollar business, teaching about it in an accounting or math classroom would also make sense. Teachers could work trafficking into their lesson plans about money. It also fits into economic discussions of supply and demand. Trafficking will never end as long as there is a demand for it.
Teachers who will cover human trafficking in their classrooms have a great responsibility to their students and also to the victims of trafficking and to potential victims. Teaching young students what human trafficking really is will help bring them closer to an awareness of the horrific reality of trafficking and involve them in exploring creative ways to end trafficking. Instead of looking the other way, and thinking that human trafficking does not happen in this country, teachers will be a force in helping to make sure trafficking is a thing of the past.
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