Oshkosh North Students Took 2Nd In A National Film Contest On Human Trafficking. Here’s What They Learned.

June 25, 2023

OSHKOSH – Before the juniors and seniors at Oshkosh North High School started working on a short film about human trafficking, they assumed it was a distant problem.

But as they learned more about the dark world of sex and forced labor trafficking, they understood these crimes hid in plain sight all around them.

“You think of human trafficking and assume it’s happening behind closed doors — and it is, but when we were going through this process and coming up with our storyline for the film, it helps you to understand that people around you, especially in school, could be going through this and you just don’t know about it,” said Emma Salentine, a senior at Oshkosh North and the film’s producer.

National Human Trafficking Hotline has identified 796 cases and 1,640 in Wisconsin alone since its inception in 2007.

Oshkosh has been a hotbed for cases in recent years, too, with six men arrested in September for a suspected human trafficking ring and two alleged trafficking survivors intercepted at a spa last May.

Since the Oshkosh nonprofit organization Damascus Road began accepting walk-ins in 2015, they’ve helped nearly 500 women who have been sexually exploited.

The Oshkosh North students’ gaining knowledge of human trafficking through film wasn’t exactly random. When Angela Brown, a film production and English teacher at Oshkosh North heard about a nationwide film contest for high school students called “What Would You Do?” in November sponsored by the Alliance to End Human Trafficking, she was intrigued.

High schoolers would have the opportunity to educate themselves on human trafficking and spread awareness through film, with the goal of empowering students to identify and prevent human trafficking in their community and beyond.

Read the full story by Natalle Ellbert on Green Bay Press Gazette.