A New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation for a pilot program in selected school districts on how to identify and respond to child trafficking.
The International Labor Organization estimates 1.2 million children worldwide are forced into work or sexually exploited.
Nathanial Hirschman is with Project Stay Gold, a student organization working to raise awareness on human trafficking. He says teachers, administrators, and students need to learn about the dangers.
"They should know the warning signs, the recruitment methods, the risk factors, and how to respond to a potential instance. The school system is our access point in the fight for awareness. It will help us stare this evil in the face, shine a light, and rid ourselves of it once and for all.”
Rush Russell is executive director of Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey. He says the training and education must be based on research done by folks who have experience in the field.
"This is a very sensitive topic and it's too easy for somebody to bring in somebody who says they know somebody who hurt somebody that knew somebody who wants to tell their story. And they come in and talk to the school about their opinions about trafficking. The school checks it off and says okay we did it. And that's not sufficient."
After the three-year pilot program, the state Education Commissioner would issue a report to the governor and the legislature on whether it should be implemented statewide.