Story by Christina Soto | Broadcast Managing Editor
Human trafficking has been a major concern nationwide, especially in Texas.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center over 1,731 calls are reported in Texas each year and over 433 cases have been reported. Texas is ranked second behind California out of all states in the U.S., where human trafficking is the highest. Houston is ranked as the city where human trafficking occurs the most.
In McLennan County, there were more than 20 arrests for human trafficking and over 120 arrests for prostitution.
Baylor professors Dr. Christina Crenshaw and Dr. Lakia Scott said they understood the gravity of this issue and decided to do research on it.
Crenshaw, who is a lecturer in the English department, developed her passion for this social justice issue while living in California. While there, she did research on human trafficking and developed an interest in it.
When Crenshaw moved to Texas, she knew she wanted to continue doing research on human trafficking in Texas.
“I had this vision for taking this research or the curriculum I had done out in California and to see whether it was reliable, valid and transferable,” Crenshaw said. “All these things that we hope as researchers that our curriculum is able to do so that we can encourage other classrooms to also use it.”
Crenshaw and Scott’s study was conducted at a central Texas high school where they surveyed students and asked them about human trafficking. They found that several students had misconceptions about human trafficking and only related it to sex trafficking.
“One of the common assumptions about human trafficking is that it is only sex trafficking,” said Scott, who is an assistant professor in the school of education. “And so a lot of kids related it to movies like ‘Taken’ to their experiences or what they knew about human trafficking. So they weren’t able to initially make those initial connections to economics, to history — just this overall understanding that human trafficking is a modern-day slavery.”
The team also found that teachers have anxiety talking about social justice issues in their classrooms. But through the A21 Bodies are Not Commodities curriculum, the professors said they are hoping students and teachers will learn more about human trafficking.
The professors said they hope their research will educate students on these issues and assist in helping teachers talk about social justice in their curriculum.