Expert praises Florida bill to make schools teach about human trafficking

Human trafficking expert Dr. Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco is praising a bill that passed the Florida House this week that would teach public school students about the dangers and potential warning signs of human trafficking.

“It’s an important piece of legislation to increase awareness and education,” Mehlman-Orozco told Hill.TV during an interview that aired on Friday, calling it a "great first step" towards addressing the issue. 

Mehlman-Orozco added that many Americans aren’t aware of the realities of human trafficking.

“A lot of Americans think of it like the movie ‘Taken’,’ where there’s clearly an innocent victim and gun-wielding Albanian mobsters that are kidnapping these people and holding them against their will,” she told Hill.TV. “The reality is … it happens over time, and often times it's friends, acquaintances, people you meet online that can be the actual traffickers.”

Florida lawmakers on the state House Education Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously for a bill requiring that the effects of human trafficking be taught as part of the curriculum in health classes. The bill would also include instruction on how to recognize the signs of child abuse.

According to the Associated Press, more than 20 public schools in Florida already teach students about human trafficking. 

A similar bill is also making its way through the state Senate.

The move is part of the state’s effort to raise more awareness about the practice.

Florida ranks No. 3 in the nation for reports of human trafficking, according to a report by the Florida Department of Education.

—Tess Bonn