Written by Karissia Stringfield, BSW Intern Wayne State University

SLS seeks to increase Awareness and Education which are both necessary to combat this human social issue. Education comes by sharing the importance of this issue with students/educators through workshops and seminars it conducts through (Botvin life skills training and the STAND and SLS programs) and SLS social media channels on human trafficking. By teaching students the risk factors (ex. Minors, LGBTQ individuals, youth with no belonging, homeless/runaways)  methods (ex. inducing and recruiting) and signs (tattoos of barcodes or other marks of identification as a victim of human trafficking) students can develop awareness and build resistance skills to deter trafficking. Once students and educators have been informed, they can work to resist, reduce, and prevent human trafficking by developing skills to assert themselves in decision making, building confidence through leadership, developing safe online practices, improving self-image and developing positive relationships. These skills build confidence in students and empower them to make their own decisions even when pressured by peers. Students develop resistance to human trafficking through practicing online or social media safety habits which includes identifying fraudulent ads and offers (summer jobs other employment offers within the U.S, or other countries,  photography, modeling, massages, acting or talent auditions by unreputable companies such as Backpage). These ads are targeted at students to induce recruit,  or  “groom” future victims.

Students can take a stand and refuse to be a part of any social groups that encourages or supports child exploitation or by engaging in pornography (provocative or revealing pictures, requests to send body pictures or bathing suit photos via the internet. Students can resist recruitment by building strong social connections as members of the STAND and Students Leading Students programs. These training skills equip students with knowledge regarding their rights to say no, or their ability to change their minds. Students can also prevent and resist human trafficking by reporting any suspected activity to a trusted adult (ex. teacher, counselor, coach), local authorities (ex. Police) or they can call The National Human Trafficking Hotline while remaining anonymous. Students can report suspected activity right through their social media pages as well (ex. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat). Another way students can resist human trafficking is by reducing stigma about human trafficking.  Students reduce stigma by taking action collectively (ex. Stand and SLS Programs) in campaigns  (ex. Safety Conferences, Purple Ribbon, or wheel of resistance project/ workshop) Students can do school projects (ex. Clarenceville High School Chapter focused on RESPECT which promotes awareness and accountability thereby counteracting human trafficking)) or even presenting a human trafficking workshop at the annual State Conference.

 Studies show that, “prevention of child maltreatment (including human trafficking) involves using evidence-based strategies which promote safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments for children and include youth programs that are designed to teach youth to recognize and effectively respond to signs of potential exploitation as well as integrates student supports which improve educational and lifetime achievements” (Community Psychology, 2019). SLS provides all of these benefits through its programs and student supports (ex. Student Advisory Board, Students Taking A New Direction, Students Leading Students, Botvin Life Skills Training).  SLS participates in nationally recognized research projects (SAMHSA) which shows the skills learned by students is utilized in building resistance to risky behaviors which can include human trafficking.

To schedule a Human Trafficking Workshop at your school for students and/or teachers, contact SLS dmf@SLStoday.org.