Carstarphen said a study shows 90 percent of domestic minor sex-trafficking victims in Georgia were enrolled in school at the time of their exploitation.
“So they were still doing their day job as a student, but were going through this. And, we need adults to be alert enough to ask the right questions, to be able identify kids in crisis and to ensure that they lean in when they have to,” she said.
Signs that a student could be in trouble include physical indicators — such as marks on the body that could indicate the student has been abused or restrained and signs of having been deprived of food or sleep.
Teachers, nurses, social workers and other school staff are also being told to remain vigilant for other signals that students could be in danger: If they they talk about traveling frequently to other cities, if their grades suddenly slip, if they show dramatic changes in behavior or how they dress, or even have new tattoos.
Unexplained school absences, inattention, forgetfulness, exhaustion or hanging out with new friends can also be indicators of exploitation, said Dr. Jordan Greenbaum, who works with victims of child abuse as a physician with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
The school board in December approved two new policies related to child trafficking. The new rules require all APS employees, contractors and volunteers to report instances of trafficking. They also authorize the superintendent to train employees about sex trafficking as well as offer counseling, health and social work services, and other support to students in need.