ATLANTA – An Atlanta school board member says she was shocked to find so many students in her district are involved in sex trafficking.
The board member got some new rules pushed through that will help teachers and staff get students out of harm's way.
Board of Education member Erica Mitchell represents schools in the area. She was heartbroken when she found out high school — and even middle school students — were forced to traffic in sex and nothing was in place to help them.
Now there is.
"I realized we had to pay more attention to what was happening to our students," said Dr. Sharnell Myles with youthSpark
Youth Spark is an organization that advocates for children who are victims of sex trafficking.
She told Channel 2's Tom Jones about a student who was forced to sell her body and still went to school.
"When she would get to her bus stop her pimp would be there waiting at the bus stop," Myles said.
Myles said there was no protocol for teachers and staff to recognize the problem and get the student out of harm's way.
"No one understood the effects of her trauma," Myles said.
Now, The Atlanta Board of Education approved a policy on Monday that works to protect students.
"Erica has been working on this for months," said school board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown.
Mitchell and Myles came up with a policy called the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Response Development Team.
"I was so shocked that this has been going on for so long," Mitchell said.
Mitchell had no idea a large portion of the minor sex trafficking cases in Atlanta Public Schools came from her district.
Now, teachers and staff will be trained to look for clues that students are involved in sex trafficking.
They will report it to administrators, counselors, state workers and law enforcement
The school system hopes to now be a part of the solution, instead of seeing the student's bad behavior as the problem,
"Don't punish the student. Give them the help that they need to overcome this situation," Mitchell said.
The school superintendent will work out just how the policy will be implemented.
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