PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — It's a lesson plan you're not used to hearing about in schools: child trafficking.
Florida is the first state in America to make child trafficking a part of the curriculum, and starting next semester, the School District of Palm Beach County will start this important conversation in its schools.
Inside a production studio, you'll find Dawn Marie working on her most passionate piece yet.
"I feel like it’s not for nothing anymore," said Marie. "I feel like I’m using what happened to me to help others."
Marie said she’s a survivor of sexual abuse and child trafficking.
"From the age of 4, 5, 6, 7 I was molested over and over again. Like, I’m still fighting this battle. I still suffer from PTSD," said Marie, who has documented her story and others in hopes of educating a new generation. "Yes, kids can look out for each other. They can look for warning signs in their peers if they see that their friend might be someone who is potentially being trafficked."
Starting next semester, students K-12 in the School District of Palm Beach County will be getting a lesson on child trafficking prevention and education. In September, the state Board of Education voted to make it a requirement.
According to the Florida Department of Education, the state is ranked third in the nation for reported human trafficking cases. Nearly 20 percent of those cases involved minors.
"We’ve heard about it, but we’ve never actually talked about it on a serious level," said 19-year-old Weidmayer Pierre.
After hearing Marie's story, Pierre and a group of young men took a pledge to help prevent human trafficking. Now he’s hoping this new rule will start the conversation earlier before it’s too late.
"Be an advocate for someone who doesn’t have a voice," said Pierre.