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(EDITOR’S NOTE: David Chartrand is an adjunct and the writing coach for a small class of student journalists at Benedictine College where I’m an adjunct. The following editorial piece is a sample of some of the students’ work.)

Sex Trafficking

by Katherine Hollcraft

Benedictine has announced a spring 2016 initiative to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment. The plan is praiseworthy but will remain incomplete without attention to the growing epidemic of sex trafficking. It’s not too late for the college to amend its plans.

Under federal law, anyone under 18 years of age induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of whether the trafficker uses force, fraud or  coercion. It’s clear that students and faculty need more specific information about how to recognize and rescue victims of sex trafficking. The attention Benedictine has given to this issue is a good start, but more can be done.

Last year, Benedictine hosted enthusiastic speakers fighting in the trenches against the sex trafficking industry. Their words were long on facts and shock, but short on specific measures the campus can take to thwart sexual slaveholders. The Circuit recently reported a partnership between the Student International Business Council (SIBC) and the Starfish Project, a not-for-profit in Asia established to empower exploited women by teaching them to make and sell jewelry. During last spring’s “Social Justice Week,” sponsored annually by many campus organizations, sociology students hosted a guest lecture on sex trafficking and how it relates to prostitution.

It is estimated 100,000-300,000 U.S. children, most ranging between 12-14 years of age, are exploited annually by sex traffickers. The problem is particularly severe in St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, and Dallas. However, Kansas City- a 45-minute drive from the Benedictine campus- is also considered a sex trafficking hub.

Sadly, the threat of trafficking often raises more questions than answers. Emily Luxem, SIBC’s CEO, is among those urging college campuses to go beyond creating fear and awareness of the issue. She says students should know how to recognize and report signs if trafficking. A few of these prevention tools can be found in a recent report by the U.S. Department of State. Among them:

1.If made aware of sex trafficking, contact local FBI office or call 1-888-373-7888.

2.Write to local, state, and federal government representatives to let them know the issue is cared about and ask what is being done to address human trafficking in the area.

3.Encourage local schools to partner with students and include the issue of modern day slavery in the curriculum. As a parent, educator, or school administrator, be aware of how traffickers target school-aged children.

4.Students: Take action on your campus. Join or establish a university club to raise awareness about human trafficking and initiate action throughout the local community. Consider a research paper on the topic. Professors: Request that human trafficking be an issue included in university curriculum. Increase scholarship about human trafficking by publishing an article, teaching a class, or hosting a symposium.

A college campus is obligated to take reasonable, effective measures to protect students from clear and present dangers. Next semester’s Title IX initiative will require all students to take a class on sexual harassment. There’s plenty of time to expand the course outline and teach students how to protect others from the American sexual slave trade. Benedictine has long been a proud voice for the voiceless. Let the tradition continue.

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