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 Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“Due to our location between New York City and Philadelphia, and the density of our state, New Jersey is particularly vulnerable to human trafficking,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Implementing this program to train teachers on how to identify warning signs and what to do when they notice them could save the life of a child too scared to speak up.”
The bill, S-2653, would direct the Commissioner of Education to develop a pilot program to provide school district staff with training to recognize the warning signs and risk factors of child trafficking as well as how to prevent it.
“Human trafficking is a massive criminal industry, second only to drug dealing,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “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.”
Following the three year pilot, the commissioner would submit a report to the Governor and the Legislature on the feasibility of implementing the program statewide, among other things.
The bill was released from committee by a vote of 12-0, and next heads to the full Senate for further consideration.