BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — This year, students across the state will be taught about human trafficking.
It’s a lesson that could save a life or stop a tragedy. In 2018, 767 human trafficking cases were reported in the state of Florida. Of those, 149 involved minors.
As Florida is now the third in the nation for reported human trafficking cases and in hopes of lessening that number, the Department of Education is implementing child trafficking prevention training throughout the state.
Starting this school year, all schools are required to have mental health awareness training (grades 6-12), substance use and abuse health education and child trafficking prevention training.
Substance abuse and child trafficking will be taught to students from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
“The more opportunities we have to teach that in the schools, the less likely students may be to engage in unsafe or risky behaviors,” said Bay District Director of Student Services, Kara Mulkusky.
In this training, students will learn how to recognize when they may be in an unsafe situation and also how to find a trustworthy adult in those times of uncertainty.
“The plan is to recognize people in the community who are trained in the curriculums that are out there so we’re working to vet the curriculums, making sure they’re age-appropriate, and that they meet the needs of all of our students,” Mulkusky said.
While this type of lesson is more mature than what most students are learning, Mulkusky thinks the more they know, the safer they can be.
“I think this is an issue that’s very important to society in general, it’s not necessarily a school issue, but it’s a society issue and an important topic for all people in the community to come together and focus on what’s best for the students and children and so I think having a partnership with our community providers, our parents, and our families, the more we spread the awareness, the more we can keep our students safe,” Mulkusky said.
She also says the leadership from the state is making all the difference in situations like this.
“The support we have from the commissioner, the governor and the first lady who saw the significance behind these topics and pushing them down to the school level, I think that’s key and we’re very grateful that they see the significance and importance of teaching not only the academic content but a lot of these life skills, lessons that are so valuable to the success of our students,” Mulkusky said.
The district will decide who they want to work with to deliver the information. If any costs come along, it is also the responsibility of the district.