09:17 AM

Human Trafficking Experts Visit Criminology Students to Share Boots-on-the-Ground Knowledge

L to R Front row Houston Police Department Sergeant Antonio Gracia, Dr. Michael Kane, Anthony Avila, David Pham, Charlotte Knowlton, Houston Police Department Commander James Dale, D.J. Jamadiao, Stefany Zuniga, Nayeli Silva, Itzel LucasCriminology, Law & Society majors, who have chosen the pathway of human trafficking as their course of study, had an opportunity to visit with Commander James Dale of the Houston Police Department’s Special Investigations Command. Dale oversees HPD’s Human Trafficking Task Force.

Dale’s insights added to their class instruction in their Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children class. Dale’s and the Human Trafficking Task Force’s exemplary work has Crime Stoppers honoring Dale as a Houston Hero with The Johnny Klevenhagen Award in May. The award was named for the famed Texas Ranger.

Why is Houston a Top Human Trafficking Area?

Every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of human trafficking. Of the more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, almost 79,000 are minors and youth victims of sex trafficking and nearly 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking.

During his visit, Dale stated that Houston is listed as one of the top human trafficking areas but a large reason for this statistic is due to the efforts of the 10 person HPD Human Trafficking Task Force that works with other law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to make arrest, secure convictions and rescue the victims.

Dale’s visit gave the students the knowledge that our local communities are very committed to combatting human trafficking. Joining the criminology class were international studies students in Dr. Chris Wolfe’s classroom.

In addition to James Dale, Jennifer Harless with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation will talk to students about their efforts to combat human trafficking in massage parlors. Lastly, representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office will pay a visit to discuss their prosecution efforts to combat human trafficking.

Human Trafficking and the Criminology Degree Plan at UST

The Criminology, Law and Society degree program has a required nine semester hour human trafficking learning pathway. The students gain specialized knowledge about the concepts of human trafficking including profiles of the traffickers, understanding the victims’ plight, the need for community awareness an assistance, and the interrelationships of the criminal justice agencies along with the non-governmental agencies in combating human trafficking. The students also become aware that human trafficking includes slave labor along with sexual exploitation.

Human Trafficking Service Project

Last semester students enrolled in CRIM 3319 Introduction to Human Trafficking performed service learning by working with United Against Human Trafficking to place awareness flyers in various Houston businesses.

If you want to influence positive change in the criminal justice system, a degree in i Criminology, Law & Society could be the perfect choice for you. You can choose from two pathways, human trafficking or terrorism and homeland security. Contact the director of the Program, Dr. Michael Kane, at kanemf@stthom.edu or Admissions at admissions@stthom.edu.