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Human Trafficking Curriculum coming to Guilford County

This fall 8th-12th graders in Guilford County will learn about human trafficking as part of the curriculum in their reproductive health classes.

The course is a result of Senate Bill 279 that was signed into law by Governor Mc- Crory in 2015. The bill requires that local schools should teach students about sex trafficking prevention and awareness.

AbolitionNC, a nonprofit that assists survivors of human trafficking, has been a huge help in providing resources to Guilford County Schools about human trafficking. They introduced usage of a DVD called “Chosen” for the new traf- ficking curriculum.

The DVD features two young girls that were lured into prostitution. In July, 38 copies of “Chosen” were donated so there will be one in each high school and each of the sex education teachers will have a copy. The DVD also has a PowerPoint with discussion guide the teachers can use as resources.

“One of the things we really like about the video is that in those cases, the girls had friends who tried to intervene,” said AbolitionNC’s executive director, Chelsea Spohn. “So it highlights ways that friends can help watch out for each other. It talks about red flags to look for and that might indicate that someone is being trafficked.”

North Carolina has a long history with human trafficking. The state ranks third in the country for most human trafficking cases. Factors of the high ranking include the state’s position by the ocean and large highway systems. This makes North Carolina’s cities like Greensboro and Raleigh possible centers for trafficking transportation.

The Human Trafficking Resource Center reported that since 2007 there have been 656 total cases of human trafficking. In 2016 alone, there have been 83 cases. Victims of human trafficking can be forced into various kinds of work, but in North Carolina, sex trafficking ranks highest on the list.

AbolitionNC hopes that the curriculum can make a difference in North Carolina’s human trafficking crisis.

“Restoration of someone who has had this experience is very difficult,” said AbolitionNC board member Jennifer Uhlenberg. “To be able to prevent that would be fabulous.”

Members of AbolitionNC have reported that human trafficking survivors often suffer from PTSD and are very limited in resources and support.

“At this time we offer mentoring services to survivors, transportation, deposits for safe housing, utilities, furnishing, apartments…,” said Uhlenberg. “ We’re helping a woman to get some advanced education. The majority of the women we work with do not have a high school education.”

In many human trafficking cases, the survivor was lured into prostitution during a vulnerable time in their life.

“Looking back at myself when I was that age, both of my parents had just divorced and my grandfather had just died,” said Spohn. “I had an older boyfriend at that age. I can remember being pretty vulnerable to someone telling me that they loved me and flattering me.

“I think anyone has that risk to be exploited in that kind of situation, whether they are from a very strong family background or not. We know kids that are from abusive backgrounds or that are homeless or have mental illness are at higher risk. But in this video there’s one woman who’s a straight-A student, who had a very strong, supportive family and she fell victim to this.

“I think it’s just important for everyone to be aware that there are people out there who are willing to prey on vulnerabilities. That can be devastating, so we want to try to prevent that.”

AbolitionNC’s long-term hope is to someday have a home for survivors in the Guilford County area.

Interested in supporting AbolitionNC?

The nonprofit is having a fundraiser on Sept.10 at the Starmount Forest Country Club. Visit abolitionnc.org for more info. !

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