Rockingham County Schools partner with New Creation for human trafficking education

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 6:02 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Rockingham County Public Schools is partnering with Harrisonburg non-profit New Creation to provide a curriculum on human trafficking. On Monday the Rockingham County School Board voted to adopt the use of the Prevention Project as a supplemental resource for the family life education program.

“It’s an in-depth prevention education curriculum so it goes more into how does this happen? What are the common lore and misconceptions around domestic trafficking? So it’s designed to protect and prevent our students here locally from the issue of trafficking,” said Sabrina Dorman-Andrew, executive director of New Creation.

New Creation will fund the implementation of the program through sales at its Harrisonburg Boutique. Dorman-Andrew said she has spoken to classes in various Rockingham County Schools about human trafficking but having it included in the curriculum will help make a big difference.

“When it’s taught in their school it’s valuable because the teachers are the ones that have relationships with students so they’re there every single class having these conversations. I think the other thing I really love about the curriculum is it’s helping to get kids to really be a catalyst for change,” she said.

The curriculum consists of two 45-minute classes for middle school students and six 45-minute classes for high school students. In addition to teaching about prevention, the curriculum also helps students identify signs of human trafficking.

“We really help to be a resource to teachers. So if a student were to come to them and they were in a difficult situation, or we have seen with the Prevention Project students understand that what’s happening to them is wrong and it’s trafficking,” said Dorman-Andrew.

New Creation also encourages students and others to complete the free online ‘OnWatch’ training which helps people learn to spot and report trafficking.

During the curriculum students also learn other important safety and prevention skills.

“We’re talking about social media literacy, media literacy in general, how we connect to people in our personal everyday lives and online. So it’s much more about how do we protect kids holistically not just from trafficking but from other damaging relationships they might build,” said Dorman-Andrew.

The program also teaches students how they can take steps to help combat human trafficking in their communities and beyond.

“We want them to be agents for change, we want them to be the ones that are shifting and changing the culture of exploitation. So I think that’s a very different piece to this curriculum is that it isn’t just protection it’s how do we be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem?” said Dorman-Andrew.

Dorman-Andrew said that Virginia has the 15th most reported cases of trafficking in the U.S. according to the National Human Trafficking Tipline. She said that human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world and it happens in all kinds of communities including here in the valley.

“One of the largest myths around trafficking is ‘It doesn’t happen where I am’ and it’s not just this community. Every community feels like this is an issue that’s in big cities and other countries, they’re not thinking about it in rural communities. Trafficking happens in cities big and small, it’s been reported in every single state,” she said.

The State of Virginia does require schools to include a human trafficking curriculum in their family life and sex ed programs which Dorman-Andrew said is a recent change for the better.

“When we started New Creation ten years ago there weren’t a lot of conversations about domestic trafficking and what it looks like here in our community so the landscape has definitely changed. One of the things that shifted and helped was the addition to the SOLs,” she said.

New Creation is also partnering with Harrisonburg City Public Schools to provide the Prevention Project program. It has already been providing the program in Page County Public Schools since 2019.