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Sex Trafficking in Schools

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In August, Somaly Mam and SMF Executive Director, Bill Livermore, presented at the Crimes Against Children Conference in Houston. This national conference brings together individuals in law enforcement, social services, medicine, nonprofits, child protective services, and others who work directly with child victims of crime. An excerpt from the SMF presentation, “Human Trafficking and the Rule of Law: Real World Challenges and Solutions,” is included below.

Crimes Against Children:
Taking Preemptive Action to Address Sex Trafficking in Schools

What do two recent cases of sex trafficking in Holland and the U.S. have in common?

The tactics used by pimps to enslave girls in school are wide-spread and similar. False courtship, emotional manipulation, and substance abuse are the typical methods used to coerce many girls into sexual slavery.

The following news excerpts capture the realities facing Dutch and American students.

From Der Spiegel story about trafficking in Dutch schools titled “Schoolgirls Controlled by Loverboys”:

“I got to know him after school,” says Angelique (at 15 years old). One day, she says, when she and a girlfriend went to drink a coke after school, a boy offered her a chair, an attractive, 19-year-old. He bought her a drink and then invited her back to his car to listen to music. Soon he was taking her to parties and discotheques and giving her alcohol. She fell in love. A few weeks later, he forced her to sleep with strange men for the first time.

From the New York Times story about trafficking at Brooklyn schools titled “8 Charged in Brooklyn in Sex-Trafficking Case”:

“There are perhaps few more despicable crimes than to force 15- and 16-year-old children into prostitution,” Mr. Hynes said.

The pimps sometimes started off as boyfriends or had acquaintances recruit friends and schoolmates from local high schools and middle schools, luring girls with promises of cash and “a generous lifestyle,” he added.

Instead, the men used threats and violence to force the women to meet quotas of $500 a day or more, meeting clients at sex parties or through the “adult services” categories of Craigslist and other and other Web sites.

The Reality on the Ground

The Brooklyn case includes girls as young as 12, and the crimes happened under the watch of school systems that failed to recognize the signs and implement awareness and other preemptive measures.

The Response & Recommended Actions to Implement in Your School District

The Brooklyn DA and the Dutch school system have launched initiatives to raise awareness among students, parents, and teachers, and to provide better services to victims.

School districts and local governments everywhere need to implement comprehensive awareness and anti-trafficking programs. Find out what’s happening in your area. If nothing has been done, or the measures are inadequate, request immediate action.