Survivor talks on being 'groomed' as a teen for sex trafficking at school amid Texas' new law

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A new Texas law aims to reduce sex trafficking in our area, and specifically schools.

According to a Senate report, 55% of young sex trafficking survivors in Texas were trafficked while at school or school activities.

"Instagram and Snapchat private message were the two social media apps that were used to groom me, to introduce me to my former trafficker who was a former graduate of my high school before I ever met him," said trafficking survivor Courtney Litvak. "The first time I met him is when he did in fact come on my former campus."

Litvak was a high school junior when she was groomed and trafficked.

"There are a lot of people who do rescue missions and they want to do something to get involved," Litvak explained. "Where it starts, is a victim and someone knowing that they deserve so much better."

The "No Trafficking Zone" law is now in effect in Texas. This means that anyone caught contacting, organizing a meeting, or picking up a student for sex trafficking purposes at or within a thousand feet of a school or school event will face a first-degree felony.

Electronic contact, like texts and social media messages count, too.

"Children often don't want to speak up," explained Jennifer Hill, the assistant executive director of The Children's Assessment Center. "They feel like they're going to be judged. They're afraid to tell. So, that's really what the issue is, they don't know who to tell."

Starting in February, HISD facilities will have warning signs reminding potential offenders of the increased penalties for traffickers.

Although other sex crimes, including relationships between faculty and students, don't face a first-degree felony, officials say this is a start.

"The problem is that we don't know how big the issue is," Hill added. "You won't know because so many of them don't speak up and that's what's terrible, the many victims that we don't know about."

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