PINE HILL NJ--On Wednesday, May 27th, Kathleen Friess (Human Trafficking Program Coordinator at the NJ Division of Criminal Justice – Office of the Attorney General) visited Overbrook High School and presented the topic of Human Trafficking to students and staff members. The assembly was approximately 90 minutes, during which Mrs. Friess’ passion for the topic was demonstrated as she captivated the 600+ student and teacher filled auditorium.
During the presentation, the audience was reminded that this horrible truth takes place every day in our communities. Mrs. Friess commented, “A victim of Human Trafficking may look like many of the people you see every day of your lives.” She urged everyone to ask the right questions and pay attention to the indicators she supplied. “…there may only be one opportunity to speak with a victim of Human Trafficking…” Casey Binkley a teacher at Overbrook High School stated, “It’s horrifying to think that students of mine may be taking place in such a shocking lifestyle.”
After the presentation students commented on the information they learned. Dakota Grogan, a male senior at Overbrook High School stated, “I didn’t know that Human Trafficking was such a large issue in New Jersey. I was amazed to hear the actual facts going on in towns that are just like mine.” Sara Giordano, a female senior at Overbrook High School stated, “This is a disgusting reality going on with girls at such a young age; I couldn’t believe it.” Students and staff members began planning to join the movement Project Stay Gold, a club for middle school and high school students that began in 2011 with an eighth grade Jefferson Township Middle School student in Morris County, NJ.
The Pine Hill School District’s Guidance Department and the Pine Hill Police Department have taken a proactive approach to battling the epidemic of Human Trafficking in our area. Officers and Counselors recently enhanced their knowledge on the topic of Interviewing Human Trafficking Victims, during a course trained in conjunction with members of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency and other state agencies. Incidents of human trafficking have emerged from Pine Hill, increasing the need to overcome the issue within our community and help accomplish one of the NJ Human Trafficking Task Force’s goals; To increase successful interdiction and prosecution of trafficking of human persons.