adolescents, spend a majority of their day in school.113 Consequently, both the White House and
the United States Department of Education have recognized that schools and educators serve as
front-line screeners for human trafficking victims.114 To support schools in this role, the
Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students (“OSHS”) has developed a web
page to provide schools with information and resources related to human trafficking.115 The
OSHS has also developed a fact sheet on how trafficking impacts schools and provides
information to school staff on how to identify and report child trafficking.116
In addition to national recognition that schools should be informed about commercial
sexual exploitation, research links a child’s poor performance in school to commercial sexual
exploitation, especially when a child with a disability does not receive appropriate services to
address his or her educational needs. According to a 2009 review of the available literature on
human trafficking, “the later the disability is diagnosed and an appropriate educational plan put in
place, the greater the likelihood of the girl experiencing failure in school and/or low self-esteem,
making her vulnerable to exploitation.”117 Although a child’s poor school performance and
failure to receive services to address that school performance are not necessarily the sole triggers
for a child becoming a victim of commercial sexual exploitation, providing interventions to
address a child’s poor school performance can be invaluable in mitigating that child’s risk for
While there are often multiple factors contributing to a child’s poor school performance,
this Article will focus on truancy, given its role as a risk factor and indicator of commercial
sexual exploitation, its relationship to disability (and unidentified disability and trafficking), and
the obstacles that children with poor school attendance may face in receiving appropriate school
The “Updated Literature Review on Truancy,” a report produced by the Center for
Children & Youth Justice in 2011, summarizes several indicators that a child is at risk of
becoming truant.118 The predictors of truancy relevant to this Article include: poor attendance,
weak academic performance, being behind two or more grade levels in reading or math, and
failing school.119 Hence, children who struggle in school at an early age, particularly in these
areas, are at risk of becoming truant from school if they do not receive intervention.120
When a school fails to appropriately address a student’s disability within the school
setting, children are also at risk for truancy or dropping out of school entirely.121 This, in turn,
113 See Average Hours per Weekday Spent by High School Students in Various Activities, BUREAU OF LABOR STATS.,
http://www.bls.gov/tus/charts/chart8.pdf (last visited Jan. 28, 2014) (indicating that high school students spend the largest portion of
hours in a twenty-four-hour period sleeping and second largest portion in school).
114 See NAT’L CTR. FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN, supra note 19; Fact Sheet: The Obama Administration Announces Efforts
to Combat Human Trafficking at Home and Abroad, WHITE HOUSE (Sept. 25, 2012), http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-
office/2012/09/25/fact-sheet-obama-administration-announces-efforts-combat-human-trafficki; WALKER, supra note 26, at 23 (listing
teachers as a category of “first responders” to correctly identify CSEC victims and “reduce the number of children who are
criminalized as well as increase their ability to access services and treatment”); HUMAN TRAFFICKING, supra note 23.
115 The Exploitation of Children and Forced Child Labor or Human Trafficking, READINESS & EMERGENCY MGNT. FOR SCHS.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, http://rems.ed.gov/display.aspx?page=additional_resources_Prostitution_of_Children_Forced
(last visited Mar. 3, 2014); HUMAN TRAFFICKING, supra note 23.
116 HUMAN TRAFFICKING, supra note 23.
117 A REVIEW OF THE LI TERA TURE, supra note 110, at 9-10.
118 See TONISHA JONES ET AL., CTR. FOR CHILDREN & YOUTH JUSTICE, UPDATED LITERATURE REVIEW ON TRUANCY: KEY
CONCEPTS, HISTORICAL OVERVIEW, AND RESEARCH RELATING TO PROMISING PRACTICES – WITH PARTICULAR UTILITY TO
WASHINGTON STATE (2011), available at http://www.ccyj.org/uploads/PPO/ WSU%20Literature%20Review.pdf.
119 Id. at 66.
120 U.S. DEP’T. OF S TATE, TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 39 (2012), available at