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THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING PROBLEM IN PLACER COUNTY

Placer County school administrators to train staff on recognizing issue

By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Many Placer County educators and school administrators say it’s important to educate students, parents and school staff about the human trafficking issue.

Loomis Union School District Superintendent Gordon Medd said educators and administrators in his district haven’t experienced it but “that does not mean we’re not vigilant.”

“To date, to our knowledge, we have not had a student involved in human-trafficking,” Medd said. “But that doesn’t diminish the fact we are very aware it is a major issue in our community and the nation. It is a worldwide problem.

“Our community is blessed by the fact our law enforcement and local media have put this issue out there in public and, in my opinion, doing a fantastic job educating and not pretending it’s not happening in Placer County,” Medd added.

Kristin Conner, the Placer Union High School District public information officer, said she could not directly address whether educators and administrators in the district are seeing victims of human trafficking. The Placer Union High School District includes the high school campuses of Placer, Colfax, Del Oro, Foresthill, Confluence, Maidu Independent and Placer School for Adults.

“Our schools are a reflection of our society and we are not immune to it,” Conner said. “But you can be sure that if a student is identified as (a victim of human trafficking), we will actively provide services for that student.”

Placer Union High School District educators and administrators receive professional development training designed to provide human-trafficking awareness and the tools needed to recognize it among the student population, according to Conner.

“This training also includes raising concerns to appropriate district personnel immediately if there are any concerns,” Conner said. “In addition, the district employs counselors, psychologists and mental health specialists who are trained to help students with their social, emotional and mental health needs in all areas, including students who might be at risk of human trafficking.”

Western Placer Unified School District’s assistant superintendent of educational services Kerry Callahan said she is not aware of any, and doesn’t suspect any, district students have fallen prey to human traffickers or been groomed or recruited.

“However, we are putting together a plan to ensure staff receives training on human trafficking,” said Callahan in Lincoln. “Then the curriculum will be added at the middle school and high school level so students can protect themselves, know what human trafficking is and what to look out for.”

PROTECT Program

Staff training and student curriculum on the subject will be added in the 2018-2019 school year, according to Callahan. Staff training and the curriculum will be provided through PROTECT (PRevention Organized To Educate Children on Trafficking) and funded through a grant from the Lincoln Rotary Club and Rotary District 5180, Callahan said. Rotary District 5180, made up of 41 clubs in the Greater Sacramento area, contributed $340,000 toward the education program. District 5180 has partnered with 3Strands Global on the PROTECT program.

The PROTECT program was introduced to 35 rural counties in California in January 2017. The PROTECT program was developed by three anti-human trafficking organizations: 3Strands Global, Love Never Fails and the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.

“The curriculum will be introduced at the middle school level through the physical education classes, everyone takes P.E., and at the high school through the health classes,” Callahan said.

Auburn Union School District Superintendent Wendy Frederickson said she is not aware of any students in her district who have been human trafficking victims. Frederickson was recently introduced to the PROTECT organization at a meeting of school superintendents.

“I will be reaching out to PROTECT regarding staff training and middle school awareness-programs on how to keep students safe,” Frederickson said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Diana Capra, the Rocklin Unified School District’s office of communications chief, said she is not aware of any students in her district who are victims of human trafficking.

Jennifer Henry, a Whitney High School health education teacher in the Rocklin Unified School District, said it is important that middle school and high school students learn about the dangers of human trafficking. She was “not aware” of any victims of human trafficking within the Rocklin school district.

“California ranks as one of the top states for human trafficking,” Henry said. “Education on sex trafficking can be eye-opening to many students. Prevention education for young people may help eliminate the misconceptions many have about sex trafficking, such as assuming that only females may become victims.

“Some victims may feel powerless and trapped in their situation,” Henry added. “Education may encourage victims to take action.”

Education on human trafficking takes place at the high school level in health classes and the curriculum includes information that is age appropriate for high school students, according to Henry. The curriculum on human trafficking was introduced this year.

Roseville Joint Union High School District executive director of personnel Brad Basham said he was not specifically aware of any district students who are human trafficking victims or are suspected of being groomed or recruited. The district includes Adelante, Antelope, Granite Bay, Independence, Oakmont, Roseville and Woodcreek high schools and the Roseville Adult School.

“That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a student within our district who is a victim of human trafficking,” Basham said. “However, if there were, that information would be kept confidential and we would be working with counselors or community resources to support the student.”

The topic of human trafficking is touched on in the district’s health curriculum, according to Basham.

“Human trafficking is embedded in the health curriculum in terms of healthy relationships and teen violence. It’s left up to the sites as far as holding assemblies or workshops on the topic,” Basham said. “Some of the schools have had assemblies or workshops on human trafficking, usually in coordination with Stand Up Placer. Also, the Placer County Office of Education has put on evening workshops on human trafficking that some of the staff has attended.”