NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — This week, before some students return to school buildings, the adults who work there are tackling human trafficking.
New state law requires training on the topic for anyone who interacts with students in an academic setting. The law expands the previous requirement. Previously, school employees — like bus drivers, janitors and cafeteria workers — didn't have to take training, and most teachers only watched a video about it.
This August, nonprofit organization Operation Rose is leading multiple workshops in schools around Nashville.
"I think that we know our youth is very vulnerable, and the statistics say at a very young age there could be a trafficker that could get in the minds of a teen, and they could be trafficked, and it's very concerning," said Bobby Young of Operation Rose.
Workshop leaders include former police officers. They teach school employees that Nashville's proximity to three interstates makes it a trafficker's paradise. The city's large number of hotel rooms does too. They also teach about obscure apps like Monkey Run. Predators are on the apps talking to young people.
School employees at Goodpasture Christian School listened to Operation Rose's presentation.
"Our teachers being able to recognize those indicators at our school and with our children, [that] can save one child, and it could be my child. I hope not, but it hits home as a dad," said Jeff Bixenman, the school's director of academics and operations.
The state law requires a 45-minute training to happen every three years.
Operation Rose offers similar training to hotel and motel staff.
On Sept. 16, Operation Rose is hosting a gala. Speakers include a human trafficking survivor, homeland security advisor and congressman. Tickets are available on their website.