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Human Trafficking: Teachers Can Help Spot It

With school soon back in session, teachers are being called upon to help spot human-trafficking victims. (ca.gov)
With school soon back in session, teachers are being called upon to help spot human-trafficking victims. (ca.gov)
August 18, 2016

BALTIMORE — Indictments this week in a human-trafficking ring in Prince George's County bring to light the on-going issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

While there is more awareness about sexual assault and human trafficking, there is still not enough progress when it comes to services, prevention and public policy, said Lisae Jordan, executive director and counsel at the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

"You know, the young girl from Cecil County brought down to Baltimore City and trafficked there,” Jordan said. “Or we've even seen cases with schoolgirls who are still living at home and being trafficked, even though they're still under their parents' care."

Three people were indicted after a months-long investigation conducted by Maryland State Police, Prince George's County and the Attorney General's office. The trio are accused of operating a sex slave ring under the guise of a modeling and escort agency which they advertised on the website “backpage.com.”

Among the victims are two teenagers: a young woman from New Jersey and a juvenile lured from North Carolina.

According to Jordan, predators often befriend their victims and make big promises of a better life. With school back in session, she said, there are signs that teachers and school administrators can look out for.

“If they have a young girl in class who they know really has no family resources and suddenly, they're showing up at school and their nails are done and their hair is beautiful, and they're wearing expensive clothing,” Jordan said; “that sort of thing might be a sign that something bad is happening, not that something good is happening."

More prison time is one way to stop human trafficking, Jordan said. But for criminals, it's all about money.

"When you sell drugs, you sell them, you use them and they're gone,” She said. "But when you sell a human being, you can sell that human being over and over, and over again. And if we're going to effectively punish and prevent and stop trafficking, we've got to look at their finances and we've got to hit them in the pocketbook."

Another angle that needs to be addressed is anti-poverty programs, according to Jordan. She said when people have jobs and a chance for an education, they aren't as tempted to do desperate things just to survive.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD