Sex trafficking is a market driven criminal industry based on supply and demand. Sadly, the demand is for youth. There is no perfect profile of an at-risk youth; the single shared factor is their age. The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry for girls and boys is between the ages 14 and 17 (Polaris Project). Developmentally, children are not equipped to process the false affection, attention and affirmation traffickers use to lure their victims.
How can we protect youth?
WA Engage’s primary strategy is to partner with a school district via a three-pronged approach:
- Train all school staff to recognize the signs of trafficking and reporting procedures;
- Raise awareness of sex trafficking and its identifying signs to interested parents of middle and high school students; and
- Train school-selected personnel to implement the program directly in its schools.
WA Engage also trains community facilitators to implement youth education programs in other community organizations working with youth, including facilities for at-risk youth such as juvenile detention centers. For more information on this work, please visit the Take On Program page.
Our organization currently uses two supplemental resources with youth:
Middle School Students: Empower Youth Program (EPY)
Empower Youth Program, owned by iEmpathize, is a tool that facilitates prevention-focused conversations with youth about exploitation and empathy to empower them with protective strategies. It helps them to safely navigate the factors in their lives that could otherwise make them vulnerable to exploitation. EPY’s unique emphasis on empathy distinguishes it as both an exploitation prevention tool and a character education program.
- Its five 20-minute lesson units are comprised of two short films per lesson, discussion questions, classroom activities, and assessment options. Optional additions give flexibility to fill 60 minutes of class time.
- Media content successfully engages teens by featuring only youth – not adults – who speak from their experiences of learning to navigate vulnerability.
- The program can be integrated into existing curricula or existing initiatives.
- The resource is grounded in the directive teaching approach whereby the facilitator guides adolescents to draw their own conclusions.
- It aligns with Health Education standards and Common Core Career Readiness standards.
High School Students: Trafficking Prevention for Schools (TPfS)
Trafficking Prevention for Schools is a program created by Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) and adapted by Seattle Against Slavery. Its objective is to empower young people to end sexual exploitation through conversations exposing the cultural influences on what it means to be male/female, the objectification of women, the harms of prostitution/human trafficking, and to enlist them as allies to end sexual exploitation.
- Groups of young women and men are taught concurrently but separately in order to foster honest discussions in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
- Facilitators guide the conversation toward critical thinking on healthy relationships, violence prevention and both social and personal responsibility.
- TPfS aligns with many Common Core State Standards for English and Language Arts.
Trafficking Prevention for School is the preferred resource for community organizations working with at-risk youth.
For further information on WA Engage's Youth Education Program, or to request training at your school or community center, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help WA Engage fund Youth Education and other programs by clicking here.