Innovative Higher Education

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 5–19 | Cite as

Sex Trafficking and the Role of Institutions of Higher Education: Recommendations for Response and Preparedness

  • Kathleen M. PrebleEmail author
  • Mackenzie A. Cook
  • Brittani Fults


In the perceptions of most persons, sex trafficking is a recognized global human rights abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has articulated a call to action with its four “P” policy agenda: prevent, protect, prosecute, and partnership (Office of Trafficking in Persons, 2017). Institutions of higher education are positioned to bolster these initiatives through research, work force and policy development, and education. It is our purpose with this article to begin a discussion within academic institutions and the field of sex trafficking to explore what actions might assist survivors who wish to pursue higher education as well as what protections should be in place to serve students who may become victimized while attending an institution of higher education. We consider human trafficking, the role of institutions of higher education, current policies related to colleges and universities, the vulnerability of college age individuals to potential trafficking, and the unique needs of those who exit trafficking and enter higher education. We offer some recommendations that will enable institutions to engage with and address the intersection of sex trafficking and higher education.


Sex trafficking Human trafficking Higher education Title IX Exploitation of college students 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen M. Preble
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mackenzie A. Cook
    • 1
  • Brittani Fults
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Office for Civil Rights and Title IX StaffUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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