Lauren Hersh, a graduate of the Global Studies Learning Center at Freehold Township High School, returned to the school recently to speak with students in the learning center about human trafficking.
Ms. Hersh is an International Consultant on Gender Violence, the Co-Chair of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition and the Director of Anti-Trafficking Policy & Advocacy at Sanctuary for Families. At Sanctuary for Families, Ms. Hersh oversees all international, federal and state policy and advocacy initiatives related to the group’s anti-trafficking work. She also spearheads the Campus Gender Violence Initiative.
In speaking with the students, Ms. Hersh discussed how she first became involved in the area of human trafficking. She served eight years as a prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, where she was the chief of one of the United States’ first sex trafficking units. There she implemented victim-based strategies to investigate and prosecute traffickers.
In her powerful presentation, Ms. Hersh provided startling statistics and noted that statistics associated with trafficking are likely low compared to the reality. Since it is an underground enterprise, numbers can only be collected from known cases, where many others may still suffer in silence. She described warning signs to look for and stressed how important it is for students to keep their social media accounts set to private. Students in the audience became involved in the discussion, offering their opinions on ways to increase awareness about trafficking and ways to support existing advocacy groups.
The Global Studies Learning Center, formerly the Contemporary Global Issues Learning Center, is an intensive study of world regions, international challenges, cultures, governments, and economies. The rapid pace of globalization means that future graduates will need a more expansive study of the world, and how the United States fits into it. Students with an interest in history, international development, diplomacy, and world order will be challenged with an accelerated and unique curriculum within the comprehensive high school, studying human geography, international relations, comparative government and politics, and international law. The learning center’s goal is to develop a sense of responsibility to the world community and an understanding of what it means to be an active global citizen.