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Teachers learn signs of human trafficking

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Posted at 6:05 PM, Mar 10, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — Human Trafficking is an issue worldwide, and it happens here in Colorado Springs. Which is why advocates in southern Colorado want to see people working in fields such as education and health care getting training to detect it.

"It seems to me, people aren't talking about it," said Lisa Brandt, the Education Awareness Chair for the Human Trafficking Task Force of Southern Colorado. Brandt organized a training Tuesday for staff and faculty in Colorado Springs School District 11.

Brandt has done various training seminars in schools over the last few years. She says in that time she's had different people coming up to her in education with a harsh realization.

"[they] say I know that this was person was trafficked and I now know that this person was trafficked and I didn't know the signs," said Brandt.

There are a myriad of things teachers can look out for when it comes to identifying a student possibly being trafficked.

While many people often think of human trafficking victims traveling around the country. The Polaris Project, a resource used in Tuesday's training points out "it is not uncommon for youth continue attending school while they are still in the trafficking situation."

Some of the signs teachers are asked to look for include different social behaviors. One of which includes a sudden increase in material items. Brandt says many times the predators seeking out children will control them by buying lots of things.

Brandt says not enough people are talking about it which is having an impact on the number of reports being made. She believes the tough conversations need to happen, and more needs to be done to address some of the possible ways predators are luring victims. Brandt says a lot of the ways criminals are luring kids and teens are through online apps and even online gaming.

"When we are looking at the safety of kids, we're looking at all kinds of indicators so that we can provide the support that they need," said Sandra Bankes, a tutor with District 11 who attended Tuesday's training.

One of the big topics at Tuesday's training included the proper channels for educators and school leaders to report possible cases. The National Human Trafficking Hotline is 1 (888) 373-788 you can also text HELP or INFO to 233733.

For more information on the task force and other efforts being done in Colorado click here: Southern Colorado Human Trafficking Task Force.