Texas State Senator Zaffirini’s proposed Senate Bill seeks to require the Texas State Board of Education to develop a training program and curriculum on sex trafficking prevention to be included as part of a school district’s health curriculum. The creation of this curriculum not only creates vital information-access points for children, it requires educators and administrators to acknowledge their role in protecting children and responding to vulnerabilities that are inherent to the population that they serve. Equipping children with information related to the realities of sex trafficking, avoiding high-risk activities or harmful relationships, and strategies for recognizing and reporting suspected sex trafficking, recognizes that empowered children are less vulnerable to the manipulation and coercion that offenders may employ. Additionally, children are oftentimes the best “eyes” and “ears” for identifying vulnerable or at-risk friends or peers; armed with the right information, educated and aware children can play a vital role in preventing child sex trafficking in their communities, schools, and homes.
Shared Hope supports Senator Zaffirini’s bill, as it statutorily builds on the practices that Shared Hope has engaged in over the last 15 years. Working closely with schools and educators across the country and internationally, Shared Hope’s Senior Director, Nancy Winston, Director of Training, Elizabeth Scaife, and hundreds of Ambassadors of Hope have presented Chosen, a training for students, teachers, and administrators. At its crux, Shared Hope’s school trainings build awareness as to what domestic child sex trafficking looks like, how teachers, parents, and students can prevent it. Perhaps most importantly, however, Shared Hope’s training seeks to equip children with information so that they will be informed adult citizens who ideally work to ensure future generations are not facing the same plights of violence and exploitation that our current children face.
To date, Chosen has been shown to 15, 525 students across the U.S. and countless teachers have continued the conversation on child sex trafficking, building it into their own curriculum. This has not only increase national understanding and prevention efforts, it has also aided in the identification of children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, sexual violence, or recognize such victimization in their peers. One of Chosen’s major themes is the importance of telling some “if something seems wrong.” Following the presentation in one Midwestern school, an eighth grade student revealed a child trafficking situation occurring at her neighbor’s house. In another school, following an Ambassador presentation, a teacher from that school contacted the Ambassador several weeks after the Chosen viewing to alert the Ambassador that one of her students had revealed that she had been raped by her father but that Chosen had allowed her to feel safe enough to talk about it and seek help.
Curriculum and trainings such a Chosen are crucial for connecting our front line folks– our children, educators, and parents– with important information for responding to and, ultimately, preventing children sex trafficking in our communities. Please join Shared Hope in supporting Senator Zaffirini’s efforts in requiring Texas public schools to provide sex trafficking education as part of the health curriculum. If you are interested in scheduling a showing of Chosen in your local school or community, you can find more information here.