OKLAHOMA CITY – House Bill 2396 by Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, was signed into law this week.
The measure authorizes certain nonprofit organizations to provide a series of in-depth sex trafficking prevention and education programs to freshmen students at Oklahoma colleges and universities. It specifies the nonprofits must be ones that specialize in outreach and education programs on sex trafficking and exploitation prevention. State colleges and universities are required to provide their freshman students with the opportunity to attend one of three on-campus programs during freshman orientation.
“Young college students are a particular target for sex traffickers and those who would exploit them,” Russ said. “Anything we can do to educate these young people to make them aware of the potential dangers and keep them safe from harm is worth our every effort. I’m grateful to the governor for signing this into law and to Senator Stanley for carrying this important legislation in the Senate.”
Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, is the Senate author of the bill.
“Even though college students are legally adults, for many, it may be their first time away from home. They may be stressed, depressed, or facing financial worries—all of which can make them targets for human traffickers,” Stanley said. “Making sure they are aware of this despicable crime and can recognize the signs and understand the dangers can go a long way in keeping them safe. I’m very thankful this measure has been signed into law.”
The measure also specifies that program materials shall be provided at no cost to participating students and their parents and legal guardians. The program provider shall be solely responsible for incurring all costs associated with implementing prevention and education programs and related program materials.
The law becomes effective Nov. 1.
HB 2396 is a revision of a measure that passed last year but that did not make it through the legislative process because of COVID.