We’re focusing on reaching America’s children before traffickers do and educating children on the dangers of trafficking. Many of the at-risk children in the U.S. go to school every day.
So over the last 18 months we piloted a program in Connecticut and reached nearly 4,000 children. Unfortunately, we also identified potential victims. After training teachers how to identify signs of potentially trafficked children, in almost every school, teachers told us they had seen these signs previously but not known what they were. We even had children teach us potential new trafficking tactics – one child told she was waiting for her “sponsor” to get out of prison. This is not your typical type of child sponsorship run by charities, rather one where older men “sponsor” a child, buy her gifts, clothes, cell phones and promise to take care of her. These tactics are placing children in extreme risk of being trafficked.
We’re starting by growing our Prevention Education program in Connecticut schools to reach thousands more students in our home state. To support the expansion we’re also opening two new Love146 offices in 2013.