Hastings Calls for Anti-Trafficking Education in South Florida Public Schools
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) sent the following letter to Dr. Robert Avossa, Superintendent of Palm Beach County Public Schools, and Robert Runcie, Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools, urging them to incorporate human trafficking education into the curriculums of the public schools systems. Joining Hastings in sending the letter were Representatives Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel, and Frederica S. Wilson. (Please find below and attached a copy of the letter):
May 8, 2017
Dr. Robert Avossa
Robert W. Runcie
Dear Superintendent Avossa and Superintendent Runcie:
We commend you for your commitment to the education of K-12 students in our communities. We know you have worked very hard to provide nurturing and safe spaces to learn which is critical for early education. With this in mind, we write to urge you to incorporate human trafficking education into the curriculums of the Palm Beach County and Broward County Public Schools systems. Given the serious nature of trafficking in persons (TIP), we believe that more must be done to educate students, families, and faculty of the dangers and signs of trafficking, and the resources available for combatting this modern-day form of slavery.
As you know, traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to control victims and subject them to compelled labor or commercial sex acts. According to Polaris, an organization active in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, there are 20.9 million victims of TIP world-wide. The International Labour Organization, another organization active in the fight against TIP, estimates that more than 5.5 million of these victims are children. Within the United States, Florida has the third highest rate of TIP, and Broward and Palm Beach Counties respectively rank 1st and 4th for in-state TIP incidences.
Many child victims of TIP are students in the public schools systems. A 2015 Department of Justice funded study of domestic sex trafficking of minors reported a median age of entry into prostitution of 15. School administrators and staff need to be aware that these reprehensible crimes are taking place right in our community, and that no school is immune from traffickers. Educators and school personnel are well positioned to help identify and report suspected abuse and instances of trafficking. With appropriate training in the risk-factors, warning signs, recruitment, and methods for identifying trafficking, school faculty can save lives by recognizing the signs and intervening to connect students to services.
As we are sure you will agree, it is of the upmost importance that we do more to prevent trafficking in our communities. We ask that you join us in moving the discussion forward on how we can best address this alarming issue.
Alcee L. Hastings
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Frederica S. Wilson
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.