With the introduction of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act (H.R. 4989) this week, U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) have proposed a grant to educate students, teachers, and school personnel on the warning signs of human trafficking.
It is a serious issue for the Floridian delegation, particularly as their state has the third-highest number of human trafficking cases in the United States. Education services, the representatives determined, as provided by nonprofit organizations, would be one critical means of expanding awareness of exploitation. At the same time, the bill would also prioritize funding more generally for nonprofits servicing geographic areas with the highest prevalence of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery,” Buchanan said. “As schools reopen this week, we need to educate students and teachers about the horrors of human trafficking. This is critical to helping current victims and preventing future instances of trafficking, which is especially important in hotspots like Florida. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz to end this vile and monstrous crime.”
Sponsored by the Selah Way Foundation, a nonprofit that cares for survivors of sex trafficking and raises awareness of international exploitation, the bill would authorize $75 million in funding for the program. Those funds would be distributed over five years. Organizations like Selah Way offer curricula for children and school systems alike on the topic.
It is estimated that children account for more than half of all trafficking victims. According to a December 2020 report from the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Suncoast region had the second-most human trafficking reports of any region in the state, while the Florida Abuse Hotline reported that Miami-Dade, Broward, and Hillsborough Counties had the highest number of human trafficking reports.