Human Trafficking Education Required; State Agency Develops Curriculum

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 11:32am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Office of Criminal Justice Programs (OCJP) is working with state agencies to help combat human trafficking in Tennessee through education, beginning this school year (2019-20).

“According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry, just behind drug trafficking,” director Jennifer Brinkman said. “A new law signed by Gov. Bill Lee in April requires that public schools include information about human trafficking involving children – and requires teachers to receive special instruction.”

Public Chapter 269 requires that “the family life curriculum used in public schools include instruction on the detection, intervention, prevention and treatment of human trafficking in which the victim is a child; requires each local board of education to require that each teacher employed by the board receive a one-time in-service training on the detection, intervention, prevention, and treatment of human trafficking in which the victim is a child.”

OCJP is partnering with the state Department of Education and End Slavery Tennessee to develop and make available to the local school districts an education curriculum through a Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant to meet the obligations of the law.

“We see direct services as a vital step for this vulnerable population to heal and rehabilitate their lives,” Brinkman said. “OCJP funding is used to facilitate the provisions of comprehensive wraparound services to victims of human trafficking recovered in Tennessee, including safe housing, medical care, mental health and substance abuse care, transportation, job training, and other basic human needs.”

OCJP, in partnership with the Administrative Office of the Courts, also helped provide funding this year for 71 judges and court personnel to attend a human trafficking workshop focused on the intersection of human trafficking and domestic violence.  

In fiscal year 2018, OCJP obligated funding for direct services to not-for-profit organizations serving human trafficking victims across the state in the amount of $600,000. For the current fiscal year that began in July, OCJP has increased its funding to community-based not-for-profits serving human trafficking victims to $1,866,330.

The OCJP functions as a strategic planning agency that secures, distributes, and manages federal and state funds for Tennessee, including Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds and STOP Violence Against Women Program (STOP) funds. OCJP uses a structured process to look three to five years ahead of daily grant management activities at the changing needs of Tennessee’s justice system and the needs of its victims of violent crime. To address crime and victimization in Tennessee, OCJP manages a systematic, year-round cycle for determining the communities’ needs, identifying the justice system’s problems, setting program priorities, making grant allocation decisions, managing those funded projects, and evaluating the results of those decisions.