HOUSTON – The superintendent of Houston Independent School District, Millard House II, was joined by several law enforcement agencies and local officials to introduce the “No Trafficking Zone” law, creating a 1,000-foot no-trafficking zone around all schools in Texas.
The law will help protect students and elevate penalties for any activity related to sex crimes against children on school campuses or at any school-related event, according to a release. The law resulted from Senate Bill 1831 with 100% bipartisan support in both chambers of the Texas Legislature.
The law requires schools to post warning signs in conspicuous areas around the school. HISD said it’s currently in the process of posting the signage with the goal of having them up at all campuses by the end of February.
“HISD takes its responsibility to child safety very seriously. Schools can and should be safe places for students. That is what this new law helps us do,” House said. “Of all social institutions, schools are perhaps the best positioned to identify and report suspected trafficking and connect affected students to critical services.”
According to a release, 60% of trafficking victims report being introduced to or groomed or solicited at schools. The goal is to educate the public surrounding the new law and the need to safeguard children while in schools or at school-related activities.
Six years ago, Courtney Litvak was a junior at Cinco Ranch High School where she said she was targeted, recruited, and groomed by sex traffickers on campus.
“Through the grooming process, when you are at the final stage, you don’t even understand how you go from point A to point Z,” Litvak said.
She also said that the private messaging feature on two popular social media apps was used to groom her and introduce her to her trafficker.
“We are becoming more educated as traffickers and exploiters are evolving, so are we. No longer will perpetrators know that they can just get a slap on the wrist and be off to go exploit other youth,” Litvak said.
WATCH: HISD announces new No Trafficking Zone law that affects Texas schools