College is a time of fresh starts and new journeys for America’s youth.
But it can also be a time of elevated vulnerability.
“Attending college is a pivotal time that involves meeting new people and testing the waters of independence,” Celia Williamson, who works on anti-trafficking studies with the University of Toledo, said.
Williamson said a disproportionately higher rate of sexual assaults happen on college campuses and sex trafficking is also a risk for college students.
“In some instances, it is also a time when some learn about human trafficking in their classes and decide to become anti-trafficking advocates,” she said.
U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking (USCSAHT) will host a webinar on Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. EST with a focus on human trafficking what is happening on college campuses across the United States.
“Key to our efforts in the work to end human trafficking is prevention through education,” USCSAHT Executive Director Katie Boller Gosewisch said. “We want to empower students and educators with the tools they need to properly protect themselves and each other.”
According to the Polaris Project, 16,658 sex trafficking victims were identified in the U.S. in 2020, and 10,359 trafficking situations were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2021 with a total of 16,554 likely victims of trafficking identified. Exact numbers are unknown because trafficking remains underreported, but cases of human trafficking on U.S. college and university campuses have been confirmed by Campus Safety.
Three long-time advocates and scholars will discuss how they and their students are working to serve victims and survivors and disrupt human trafficking.
Panelists will include Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, associate professor at Arizona State University, Celia Williamson from the University of Toledo and Tony Talbott, director of Advocacy of the Human Rights Center at the University of Dayton.
“Colleges and universities are key actors in the fight against human trafficking as well as locations where trafficking may occur,” Talbott said.