FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 4, 2023
OLYMPIA – Education on sex trafficking prevention and awareness will soon be required for students across Washington.
Senate Bill 5355 was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday. Though sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), this legislation was created, drafted and negotiated by Eastside Preparatory School senior Ria Bahadur.
Bahadur was called to act upon learning that Washington is the sixth largest epicenter of sex trafficking, and more than 45 percent of all victims are minors who are in schools.
“Education is one of the best defenses. When we provide accurate information to our young people, we save them from harm,” Wilson said.
SB 5355 mandates 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 also requires this instruction happen between grades 7-12, which corresponds to the time that young people are most vulnerable to becoming victims.
“It’s the dawn of a new era,” Bahadur said. “The passage of SB 5355 will equip the coming generations with an accurate understanding of sex trafficking and its risks in their environment. Knowledge is power, and by educating students, we are empowering society today and for years to come to nurture empathetic and action-driven citizens that will alleviate sex trafficking at its root.”
“Ria saw a problem and worked relentlessly to provide a solution. I know that her dedication to tackling this crisis through education will protect Washington children. This legislation will save lives,” Wilson said.