Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, to establish a child trafficking awareness program, cleared the Senate today.
“Unfortunately our location, and the density of our state, makes New Jersey especially vulnerable to human trafficking, which is why it is so important we take steps to ensure the safety of our children,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Implementing this program to train teachers on how to identify warning signs that a student has been trafficked could save the life of a child too scared to speak up.”
The bill, S-2653, would direct the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines to educate school employees on how to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of child trafficking as well as how to prevent it.
“While we don’t want to think of this as something that can happen in our community or to our children the fact of the matter is that it can and it does,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Human trafficking is a massive criminal industry, second only to drug dealing. If we are going to ensure the safety of our children we must take action.”
The guidelines would be developed in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Children and Families.
Since 2005, there have been 102 human trafficking indictments in the state. According to data collected by the National Human Trafficking Hotline, New Jersey is 13th in the nation for the number of human trafficking cases reported.
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 38-0.