LINDEN, NJ - World history students at Linden High School recently took action to spread awareness about the problem of human trafficking, and in the process raised their own social consciousness.

Human trafficking is the exploitation of a person through force, fraud or coercion, and can include sex trafficking, forced labor or domestic servitude.

On January 25, about 90 freshmen students in Derrick Potts’ classes went around the school putting magnets on lockers with messages from the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking.  The goal of the “Locker Slam” is to shine a spotlight on a problem that is often hidden in the shadows.

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The students took photos of the magnets and shared them on social media with the hashtag
#NJStudentsForFreedom.

“Combining the locker magnets with social media was a great way to engage students on this critical topic,” said Superintendent Danny A. Robertozzi. “Of course, they are all familiar with social media, but this project helped to show them the power it has to spread important messages. So they learn about the problem of human trafficking, but also learn about their own capability to bring about change.”

The magnets came in seven colors, each with a different message, including “Be a Voice for the Voiceless,” “Slavery Still Exists,” and “Your Voice Can Change the World.” They also have the organization’s website www.njhumantrafficking.org so students will know where to go for more information, and a number to text for help or to report human trafficking.

Potts said it’s an important message to get out and that the “Locker Slam” is a great way to engage his students in a way that goes beyond classroom lessons.

“We talked about the African slave trade, then to put a more modern connection to it, we went over human trafficking,” he said. “What is it? What are the signs of it? What are the different types? But kids like to move around, so they’re out of the room doing something different. And they get to use social media in class, so that really helps it as well.”

Potts said the magnets also made an impact on other students who saw them around the building.

“I was in the cafeteria and I had a student ask me, ‘Are you Mr. Potts? What is this?’ So I told her about it, and she said, ‘This is really cool.’ I don’t know who this student was, but the goal is to get other students to take a picture of this and use the hashtag," said Potts. "So not only my classes but other students put it out there.  The more people who see it, the more interest, and it brings more awareness of the issue.”

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