New State Rule Mandates Every School in Florida to Be a “Child Trafficking Free Zone”

Florida is in the top three states for human trafficking and Florida education officials want their schools to teach about child trafficking prevention with the hopes that “every school in Florida be a ‘child trafficking free zone.’” 

Selah Freedom and The Selah Way Foundation applauds Florida legislators on passing a state-wide initiative requiring all Florida school districts to report individual plans to the Department of Education every year by Dec. 1, 2019. While the act will take effect on July 1, 2020, by this year’s end, school districts will be required to report to state education officials the methods of instruction used for each grade level in K-12, the qualifications of individuals who are delivering the instruction, and a description of the materials and resources utilized to deliver instruction.

The goal is to raise awareness of how to recognize and understand human trafficking, as well as sexual abuse. Under the rule, school districts that fail to comply with the new mandate could be sanctioned. 

Congratulations to Valerie Ellery who will be appointed Florida Department of Education’s Human Trafficking Education Specialist, the first position of its kind in Florida, beginning on October 1, 2019. Ellery just returned from Washington DC where she presented on a panel at the McCain Institute's Safeguarding Children and Prevention Education Roundtable alongside of Federal, State, and national NGOs. Ellery is an International Educational Consultant with the Florida Department of Education and addressing anti-Human Trafficking, and a best-selling author of literacy books and educational resources for human trafficking prevention instruction.

The new Florida legislation comes at the heels of a proposed Bill at the national level called “The Human Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Training Act of 2019”  introduced in Congress on 6/18/19 that would provide $75 million in grant funding over a five year period to non-profit organizations and schools in cities in America to develop and implement curriculum for training students, teachers and school personnel to “understand, recognize, prevent and respond to signs of human trafficking. 

If passed, the Bill, introduced by Congressmen Vern Buchanan (R-Fl) and Alcee Hastings (D-FL) would be a national initiative aimed at educating children in grades K-12 about the risks and warning signs of human trafficking and provide protection and support of millions of young people who are at risk of being victims of these crimes. 

This new Florida bill, and the proposed national bill will be making the history books, readers. The first of its kind!

-Elizabeth Melendez Fisher Good

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