Human Trafficking Prevention 

Human trafficking is a problem not only throughout the United States, but throughout the world. As of May 15, 2018, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline has received more than 502 calls referencing 156 cases of human trafficking in Virginia during the 2017 year. There have been numerous cases within Prince William County.

Prince William County Public Schools initiated a human trafficking prevention program in 2013 after receiving a grant from the Potomac Health Foundation. Since 2016, the program has been funded by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services with funds made available to the Commonwealth of Virginia from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

The program is presented in twelve high schools and two middle schools within the School Division. By June 30, 2018 this program will have been presented to over 30,000 students since 2013.

Following a 90-minute interactive lesson, students are able to privately identify themselves or friends as possible victims. The students who are identified meet privately with a social worker who assesses the individual needs of the student and utilizes community-based resources to get them the help that is needed to begin the healing process. These resources include medical care, mental health care and branding removal services, as needed. The School Division also works closely with the Prince William County Police Department as a project partner.

Since 2013, 667 students have come forward as a result of this program. Of those students, 223 have been identified as having been sexually assaulted, groomed or victims of trafficking. 

Student responses to lesson on teen trafficking:

"When I first heard this lesson on sex trafficking I was shocked and sad because I didn't know it happened where I lived. It is terrible to know that people my age get convinced into doing these things. Thanks to the lesson I know what I need to about sex trafficking. I know what to do if something like this happens to my friends, family or even myself."

"The presentation really helped me understand what sex trafficking is. It makes me very upset seeing that kids my age are being influenced to become a prostitute. This meeting helped me understand how kids are influenced and how I can see it coming."

Teacher responses:

"Your program is instrumental in stopping the process by making our students aware of the process and its warning signs. We would be honored if you came back next year."



Circle of 6 U PWCS

Prince William County Public Schools released a safety app in 2016 called Circle of 6 U 

PWCS The safety app was developed by Tech 4 Good, LLC. It has been used by several colleges and universities throughout the nation; however, Prince William County Public Schools was the first K-12 public school division in the nation to utilize it. The School Division purchased the app using grant funds from the Potomac Health Foundation and had it customized to serve our local community.

This safety app allows the student to identify six people whom they trust. When they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, they can utilize the pre-programmed messages to request help. If they ask for someone to come pick them up, a GPS map is sent with the text message to the six identified individuals in the students’ circle. If they ask for an interruption, a message will be sent out asking for someone to call them and interrupt them. This gives them the opportunity to gracefully leave the situation that they are in. They can also open a text conversation with their circle if they simply need to talk. In addition, there are links to local resources and hotline numbers. This app is not intended to be used in an emergency and does not replace 911 services. It can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play store. This app is intended for ages 13+ or with parental permission. 

Contact Information:

Mary Ellen Smith, Human Trafficking Prevention Specialist

Additional Resources and Information:

Background Information (PDF)
Program Outcomes (PDF)
News Archive (PDF)