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Human Trafficking Information about Human Trafficking Online Exploitation Information about Online Exploitation

Prevent, identify, and respond to child exploitation.

Child exploitation can take many forms and affect youth of any age, race, geographic location, or socioeconomic status. Victimization can take place directly on school grounds as well as through online or social media platforms, which can be sites for predatory behaviors and interactions with malicious actors who target children and adolescents (e.g., adults seeking to sexually exploit children, to financially extort them through the threat or actual distribution of intimate images), and victimized students may suffer physical, mental, and emotional trauma.

Schools are uniquely positioned to support students facing exploitation. Because of the regular interaction between educators and students, school personnel can help identify and report suspected cases of trafficking and exploitation and connect affected students to critical services.

Understanding the factors that make students vulnerable to exploitation, such as adverse childhood experiences, history of trauma, housing instability/homelessness, or lack of supportive adult figures, and recognizing the warning signs is the first step in identifying potential victims. Signs or indicators may include unexplained absences from school, abruptly disconnecting from family or friends, or significant changes in behaviors including online activity, and if observed can be an opportunity to ask more questions or help students get the support they need.

School leaders can provide training and resources on the risk factors and indicators of child exploitation so that teachers and school staff can recognize potential cases, as well as offer age-appropriate safety education programs for students and engage with parents to raise awareness of the issue. School districts should also establish and articulate clearly defined policies, protocols, and procedures, supported by collaboration with relevant local community and law enforcement partners, for school personnel to follow if cases of child exploitation are suspected or disclosed.

To counteract risk factors, identifying and building protective factors and a safe and supportive school community can help to prevent youth from exploitative and trafficking situations. Protective factors can include encouraging youth to seek help, identifying resources to meet student needs, and offering ongoing education about healthy relationships, intimate partner violence, and child sex abuse. Schools should also put in place campus security measures and screen visitors to school grounds and events. As well, providing children, teens, parents, and teachers with information regarding the potential dangers of online environments and how to stay safe online can help prevent many instances of child exploitation.

Use the filter below to sort resources available based upon stages of preparedness and subtopic.

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All Child Exploitation Resources

The federal government identified additional resources that highlight strategies for school safety. Use these resources to learn more about child exploitation.

Child Exploitation
Sexual Exploitation of Children

Department of Justice

This webpage houses examples of efforts funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to combat the sexual exploitation of children, as well as additional related websites and information on reporting human trafficking.
Training Program
Child Exploitation
Addressing Human Trafficking in America's Schools: Training Collateral

Department of Education, 2022

This set of training collateral includes posters and shareables that can be posted on social media or websites to help share key information on identifying, preventing, and responding to trafficking of students. It is designed to support continued education and awareness among staff after completion of the Addressing Human Trafficking in America’s Schools Staff Development Series.

Training Program
Child Exploitation
Addressing Human Trafficking in America's Schools: Staff Development Series

Department of Education, 2021

This training program provides educators with an introduction to human trafficking prevention. It includes three brief videos that provide information key to identifying potential trafficking, generating appropriate school-level responses, and efforts to prevent trafficking of students. Each video includes comments by both content and lived experience subject matter experts, as well as reflection questions for educators to consider individually or as a group.

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