Grantee Spotlight from California

School-Based Professionals Response to Human Trafficking Training

This training is powerful for everybody in a school community. From teachers to lunchroom staff to security people. We all have a role to play in keeping young people safe from human trafficking.
Dr. Lela Bachrach, Principal Investigator for the TPP Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital (Children’s) Oakland operates two school-based clinics in Alameda County, California. While the clinics primarily provide care to students at the school, they also serve all community members ages 11–25 years old. Clinic staff sometimes see youth who show indicators of human trafficking, but for a long time they—and other school staff—received no training in how to identify and respond to these indicators.

Dr. Lela Bachrach, Principal Investigator for the TPP Program at Children's Oakland, recognized that tailored training would equip school staff with the tools they need to help youth who are being exploited. This realization led her to co-create the SOAR for School-Based Professionals Response to Human Trafficking eLearning. This training helps all youth-serving staff understand youth labor and sex trafficking, identify ways to protect youth, recognize possible indicators of trafficking in school settings, implement a trauma-informed approach in working with youth, develop a trafficking response protocol, and provide critical supports to youth who have experienced or are at risk for human trafficking.

The Children’s Oakland health education team has also integrated human trafficking into its TPP curriculum, which it implements at partner schools. This change has paved the way for students to discuss human trafficking-related concerns with staff.

Skye Timmons, the project coordinator for the Children’s Oakland TPP program, experienced first-hand how this curriculum change made a difference. “While co-teaching a virtual human trafficking prevention lesson, a student privately let me know that her cousin was sex trafficked as a minor. I was then able to assess the safety of this student and her cousin, and make sure that our student got support from a therapist.” They added, “Our health educators are creating a brave space for students to engage in critical thinking about health and wellness. It’s not an easy job as Zoom guest teachers to create a space where students feel comfortable to disclose. I have deep admiration and gratitude for their ability to ground each lesson in reproductive justice in service of youth.”