OLYMPIA – Legislation mandating instruction on sex trafficking prevention and identification in Washington schools passed the Senate on Wednesday. 

Senate Bill 5355 is sponsored by Senator Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), but was created, drafted and negotiated by Eastside Preparatory School senior Ria Bahadur.  

Bahadur was inspired to create the bill upon learning that Washington is the sixth largest epicenter of sex trafficking in the United States and that more than 45 percent of all victims are minors in schools.  

SB 5355 would mandate that students be taught:  

  • Information related to race, gender and socioeconomic status as it relates to both victims and perpetrators. 
  • Medically and legally accurate definitions of sex trafficking and information related to how those terms become stigmatized.  
  • Information on reporting systems and basic identification training to determine if someone is at risk or has been trafficked. 

The legislation would mandate that this education happen between grades 7-12, which corresponds to the time that young people are most vulnerable to becoming victims.  

“Ria has been a leader in ensuring that we work to prevent sex trafficking here in Washington. One of the best ways we can do that is through education,” said Sen. Claire Wilson. “I am inspired by her tenacity in bringing this solution to the Legislature.”   

“I am so excited that this bill will provide access to actionable, intersectional, and informative sex trafficking education and generate conscientious changemakers that will challenge the manifold stigmas plaguing the understanding of this crime,” Bahadur said. “This will enable the future generations with waves of upstanders who will shift societal paradigms and help mitigate sex trafficking.” 

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.