In October of 2015, the North Carolina Senate passed a law stating that all students in grades 7-9 must take a course about human trafficking. Although the bill was passed last year, it did not go into effect until the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. At Leesville, the course will be taught in Healthful Living, a class typically taken by freshmen. The new course is administered and taught by Student Services.
Jessica Huber, who works in Student Services, has taught the course to four PE classes. Huber said, “The purpose is to educate students about what human trafficking is, as well as safety measures.”
Human trafficking is defined as “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited” (Merriam-Webster). Victims are often forced into involuntary labor or sexual acts.
Because the lesson may contain subject matter that parents don’t want their children exposed to, Healthful Living teachers must send home a letter or permission slip for parents to sign. The course contains a powerpoint about human trafficking, a video, and a survey.
The course not only teaches students what qualifies as human trafficking or an unhealthy relationship, but also supplies them with methods students can use to obtain help if they feel unsafe.
Huber said, “I hope that students take away the importance of being in a relationship that [they] deserve, and they recognize signs that they’re in a relationship that might not be healthy. So I think taking those precautions to know what you want and what you deserve in life are important things.”
After the lesson, both Healthful Living teachers and members of Student Services hope that their students will remember what the lesson taught them. Huber said, “If you recognize that maybe [human trafficking] is something that you’re experiencing, or you’re in a relationship that has some characteristics that are unhealthy, you’ll know how to get support.”
Through a survey distributed during the lesson, Hubert was able to reach out and get into contact with students who felt they might be in an unhealthy relationship. The curriculum also supplied the students with hotlines and websites that they can contact if they have concerns about an unhealthy relationship or human trafficking.