PWCS is a nationally recognized leader in combating teen trafficking
Posted on 08/05/2019
Silouette image of five teenagers

Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) is a recognized national leader in providing a school based, comprehensive trafficking prevention program. PWCS was the first school jurisdiction in the United States to provide a comprehensive school-based program. This initiative first began through a grant from the Potomac Health Foundation and was derived from a VA state mandate for school boards to have information regarding the topic. Beginning with the 2018-19 school year, the Prince William County School Board committed support to this program in the form of funding for a position in the Office of Student Services.

The “Prince William County Schools Human Trafficking, Prevention, Identification, and Referral” program, developed by Elizabeth Young, supervisor of school social workers, received the 2019 National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award for the South Region. This program has been presented to more than 40,000 students in PWCS high schools and middle schools.

Following a 90-minute interactive lesson, students are able to privately identify themselves or friends as possible victims. The students who are identified meet privately with a social worker who assesses the individual needs of the student and utilizes community-based resources to get them the help that is needed to begin the healing process. These resources include medical care, mental health care, and branding removal services, as needed. The School Division also works closely with the Prince William County Police Department as a project partner.

In addition, PWCS runs Public Service Announcements in local movie theaters throughout summer months to raise awareness of the issue of sex trafficking and the resources available to help.

What is Human and Sex Trafficking? Trafficking is about control and exploitation. Traffickers utilize force, fraud or coercion to place victims into forced labor services or commercial sex. Human trafficking is a problem not only throughout the United States, but throughout the world. As of May 15, 2018, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline has received more than 502 calls referencing 156 cases of human trafficking in Virginia during the 2017 year.

There have been cases within Prince William County. Since 2013, 667 students have come forward as a result of this program. Of those students, 223 have been identified as having been sexually assaulted, groomed or victims of trafficking.

In addition, PWCS is a member of The Greater Prince William Trafficking Task Force, a regional collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations dedicated to identifying and rescuing victims; investigating and prosecuting perpetrators; offering support and services to survivors and families; and, promoting community awareness and vigilance.

Learn more about PWCS teen trafficking prevention.

Suspect human trafficking? Contact:

  • Prince William County Police: 703-792-6500
  • Manassas Park Police: 703-361-1136
  • City of Manassas Police: 703-257-8000
  • National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373- 7888
  • Prince William County Schools Office of Student Services: 703-791-7257 (for juveniles only)