TALLAHASSEE – On Tuesday April 18th Dr. Lavern Deer, HT Advocate, Founder and CEO of Female Development World Organization (FDWO) was recognized in the Florida Senate by Senator Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens) and on Wednesday April 19th in the Florida House by Representative Felecia S. Robinson (D-Miami Gardens) for the organizations work in human trafficking awareness.
During the House recognition Representative Robinson said, “We know that human trafficking is very prevalent here in Florida and we here in the legislature has done many things to try to address this and it’s such a great honor to have one of our constituents that’s also doing the work on the ground.”
The Female Development World Organization founded 2013, is a 501(c)3 organization. It includes programs designed to raise awareness for the prevention of Human Trafficking as well as help survivors to recondition their mind, body, and soul. Through its initiative’s, local municipalities such as such as the city of Miramar, Lauderhill, North Miami Beach, Miami Gardens, Fort Lauderdale, Oakland Park, Margate, West Palm Beach, Opa-locka, and Tamarac have supported FDWO by hosting town halls and symposiums to build awareness for residences and city officials.
FDWO has worked with Florida Legislature in proposing language for human trafficking education in Schools. As a result, a policy was adopted by the Department of Education making Florida the first state to teach Human Trafficking Education in schools.
Bill HB159 and SB596
In 2018, FDWO filed a bill HB159 and SB596 “Control of Human Trafficking”. The purpose of the bill was to educate the public, and other industry partners to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond and report possible cases, however, the bill did not make it through the legislative session.
Bill HB259 and SB154
In 2019, FDWO refiled the bill HB259 and SB154. “Human Trafficking Education in Schools”, which would, among other things, require Florida schools to educate students on how to spot signs of human trafficking by adding the “dangers and signs” of human trafficking to the current state’s health education requirements.
The bill also sets a specific minimum curriculum for human trafficking awareness, as well as provide information on resources for victims. The curriculum would include how to recognize the signs of human trafficking and direct students to resources at the national, state, and local level. It would also require educators to teach the prevalence and nature of human trafficking, strategies to reduce risk and techniques on how to set boundaries and safely to ask for help.
In 2019, the Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved a new rule (F.S. 1003.42(2)(g)) requiring instruction in child trafficking prevention for students in grades K-12. With this approval, Florida became the first state in the nation to address the need for instruction in child trafficking prevention. The new rule also establishes procedures for school districts to plan and document delivery of the required instruction.
At a meeting on March 17, 2021, the School Board of Miami-Dade County unanimously approved an Agenda Item which supports Human Trafficking Education in all Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
The Florida Department of Education provides an array of resources aimed at bringing awareness to human trafficking, including training for educators by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and the Department of Homeland Security and information on how to report human trafficking.
“Children are the future, let’s continue working together to create a better world for them to thrive and live free of abuse and trauma. Dr. Lavern Deer, HT Advocate, Founder and CEO of Female Development World Organization (FDWO) www.fdwo.org