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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 28, 2021 11:55 AM
From: Representative Jessica Benham
To: All House members
Subject: Human Trafficking Education in Public Schools
Human trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, generating billions of dollars for traffickers, while imprisoning millions in horrible conditions. Estimates suggest there are tens of millions of human trafficking victims currently around the world, with the vast majority of them being women and girls. Certain populations are also more vulnerable to human trafficking, including individuals with disabilities. Human trafficking occurs in every region in the world and right here in our own backyards.

According to National Human Trafficking Hotline statistics, in 2019, there were 271 cases of human trafficking in Pennsylvania reported to the hotline. Of these, 229 cases were sex trafficking; 18 cases were labor trafficking; and 13 cases were both sex and labor trafficking. As sobering as these statistics are, they do not capture the totality of this problem in our state. There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S., however the number of victims probably reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are included. Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help – making human trafficking a vicious, hidden crime. Perpetrators know this – they exploit their victim’s fear or immigration status or age.

Education and greater awareness can result in a higher number of reported cases. More reported cases mean more investigations that will shut down these truly horrendous criminal enterprises. To that end, my legislation would require schools to implement human trafficking information into an appropriate curriculum, including the dangers and signs individuals can recognize and report, internet safety, and what students can do to help. This curriculum would be provided to students at the junior high and senior high school levels.

Please join me in supporting this important legislation to ensure our students can recognize the signs of human trafficking and help end this denial of basic human rights.

Introduced as HB1584