New school manual aids in attack on trafficking

TRue or false? Slavery in America ended with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

If you quickly answered true, as many instinctively would do, you’d be dead wrong. You’d also clearly be in need of a re-education on modern-day slavery that continues to victimize an estimated 27 million people in the United States and around the world.

The sample quiz question above comes from a comprehensive online education manual released recently by the Ohio Human Trafficking Commission under the auspices of the office of state Attorney General Mike DeWine. It is targeted toward middle school and high school students, educators, counselors and other community members with the noble goal of expanding awareness of the abhorrent crime and to help all better recognize and minimize the demeaning social scourge.

As such, the education guide, readily available on the Ohio attorney general’s website, should become a must-use lesson plan for classrooms and for larger community outreach programs. After all, human trafficking affects Ohio youth in much larger-than-perceived numbers. Approximately one-third of all cases reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline involve minor victims.

In Ohio alone, more than 1,000 children are exploited and forced into the commercial sex trade with an additional 3,000 runaways at risk of being trafficked yearly, the office of Gov. John Kasich reports.

Fortunately for Ohioans, the Buckeye State has worked proactively to promote awareness and adopt taut statutes to prosecute traffickers while helping to restore a semblance of normalcy to the lives of trafficking victims.

Ohio legislators approved the Safe Harbor Law, which increases penalties for traffickers and improves care and rehabilitation for victims. In addition. Kasich issued an executive order instructing state agencies to coordinate services and treatment for trafficking victims. In the Mahoning Valley, DeWine and and Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene earlier this year announced formation of an Ohio Organized Crime Investigation Task Force to work to combat human trafficking in the Mahoning Valley, through which a prime pipeline for traffickers – Interstate 80 – traverses.

On the federal level, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has been a champion for fighting human trafficking, having sponsored five federal anti-trafficking bills signed into law by President Obama. Each was designed to make a real difference in better serving victims and helping law enforcement to combat this horrific crime.


The education guide developed by the Prevention, Education and Awareness Subcommittee of the statewide human trafficking commission, represents another potent tool in the arsenal of weapons to fight the pernicious crime.

Although the guide is not a part of any mandated state curriculum standards, it offers an excellent resource on guidelines and best practices for anti-human trafficking lessons for Ohio’s young people.

One of its greatest assets is its flexibility. In classrooms, the information can be incorporated into most classes. According to the subcommittee, math classes an analyze statistics and learn how to use them to produce accurate estimates. Social studies classes can examine laws, investigative techniques and migration and trafficking flows throughout the nation. English classes can analyze survivor narratives and identify cultural forces that promote trafficking.

The new curriculum manual also proves instructive for teachers and students alike with practical information on identifying potential trafficking victims or targets. Immigrant and migrant youth, children living in poverty, foster children and students who transfer schools frequently are among those at greatest risk to become ensnarled in the trafficking trap.

It also includes practical warning signs of victimization that include truancy, withdrawn behavior, depression, anxiety and a significant other who is noticeably older and controlling.

In short, the new school manual fills a need. Human trafficking thrives best when public awareness about it is kept at bay. The educational tool, along with support from law-enforcement and lawmaking communities, can go far toward loosening the offensive grip of this anguishing menace on children.

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