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San Diego School Wants To Take Human Trafficking Play On The Road

San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts students perform the play Tr...

Credit: SD Unified School District

Above: San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts students perform the play Trapped, April 30, 2019.

Last month students at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts performed “Trapped,” a play about human trafficking.

Roxane Carrasco, an instructor at the school, and Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, president of the San Diego Unified District Board of Education, talked about the play with KPBS Evening Edition host Ebone Monet in this edited interview.

Q: How did the play come about?

Carrasco: The Department of Justice, alongside the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, which is a group of people at the state local and federal level that team together to basically catch people in human trafficking, came to us with an idea of producing a play written by students for students to create awareness on the stages of human trafficking. We spent all of the fall into early spring developing it, with an advanced English class and a professional playwright. We used the eight stages that the task force presented to us of how a victim is pulled into the trafficking ring. It was upsetting to read. The eight stages are so minor that you don't even realize that your own child could be falling victim to those. So I asked for more support, and the task force came back and did seminars and workshops with our teachers and our students to help them understand the gravity and how deep this goes, and how to identify in case you're being lured in, but also how to identify if your friend or classmate is falling victim to it.

Q: In what other ways is the school district taking on the issue of human trafficking?

Whitehurst-Payne: All of our counselors...nurses, entire staff members are going through training. We're reaching out to parents to do workshops for them. So it's a full court press in the sense that you don't think about it as an adult until someone brings it to your attention. Wherever you live, there could be someone right next door to you and this is happening.

Q: You said you were in the audience, what was your reaction to "Trapped"?

Whitehurst-Payne: I felt like weeping because you see the impact of what's happening to children, happening across society. And to know that San Diego is one of the critical places where people come in for that child.

Q: What's next for the play?

Carrasco: I'm going to spend a portion of the summer packaging this play with the Department of Justice and the task force. So that we could actually give the projections, the set, the script, the costumes and the props to any school that wants to be able to put it on. We can send it to a community center. We look forward to getting it district-wide soon, and then eventually nationwide.

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