New law requires TN teachers to learn about human trafficking signs

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Teachers are going into the new school year with new safety training in their lesson plans.

Tennessee lawmakers passed legislation requiring teachers to receive one-time training to detect, intervene, prevent and treat human trafficking victims in their classrooms.

Ryan Sutton, the Anderson County School District spokesperson, said the district implemented the training video, which the state provided, into Safe Schools–the online training portal for faculty.

Anderson County teachers are required to take a short quiz after watching the 24-minute video.

Sutton said though, that the district started teaching faculty and students about human trafficking last school year.

Rachel Pemberton, Norris Middle School curriculum specialist, said she received human trafficking lesson plans from StreetHope, a nonprofit organization fighting to end sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

“I knew that as terrible as it is and as hard as it is to talk about it, that it was very important that they understand that that’s not a real love, that what these perpetrators are telling them is not a real love,” Pemberton said.

Part of StreetHope’s curriculum and the state’s new video teaches what the signs of human trafficking are.

Pemberton said they aren’t what most people think after watching the movie ‘Taken.’

“Familial pimping, or trafficking of parent’s children we will see a lot for drugs, rent, that sort of thing. It’s really, really horrible to think about but that’s the kind of thing we might see in our area more so than just kidnapping and then taking,” Pemberton said.

The state law also requires the family life curriculum in public schools to include teaching those students about human trafficking.

Pemberton said that when she teaches the dangers of human trafficking, she tries to instill in the students that they will never know who is on the other side of the screen.

“We tell them ‘this is how to be safe online, this is why you should be safe online and this is what happens you’re not,” Pemberton said.

She said she wants students to know they can talk with a teacher or school staff member and be safe while doing so.

Sutton said Anderson County Schools put in a lot of effort to keep their students safe.

Not only has the district implemented the signs of human trafficking, but they make sure students are safe when using the electronics provided to them at school.

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