prevention education

When we first formed Nest, the focus of our work was on bringing PLAYGROUND to communities, first responders, and policymakers in an effort to advance the public’s understanding of child sexual exploitation and identify ways to combat it. To this end, we’ve worked with federal agencies, legislators, and organizations across the country.

PLAYGROUND continues to be a powerful tool and is still used by organizations such as the American Bar Association as part of workshops and trainings, but over the years, our team noted major gaps in prevention education and a lack of resources for teachers, parents, and caregivers who want to support the children in their lives.

To address these gaps, we launched the Nest Program for the Right to Healthy Relationships: Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking. Together with our network of experts, educators, and partners, we’ve developed and are currently implementing a high school curriculum for youth and training program for adults that we believe will contribute to a world free from sexual violence against children. We are also developing instructional materials for younger students. Watch this space as we continue to more data and resources.




According to a study by Portland State University Professor, Chris Carey, between 2009 and 2013, the average age of sex trafficking victims in Portland was 15.5. The youngest victim was just 8 years old . The Dallas Women’s Foundation reports that more girls are commercially sexually exploited in one month in Texas than there are teen girls who die by suicide, homicide, and accidents combined in one year. While an absence of research means that we don’t know the exact number of trafficked children in the United States, the CDC reports that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18, creating greater vulnerability for further exploitation.

Add to these startling statistics that sexting, sextortion, and sexual assault are on the rise and the urgent need to act is clear. Children increasingly find themselves in vulnerable situations, often fearful of imagined repercussions of seeking help. Caregivers and educators may lack the training to identify signs of sexual exploitation or to respond to at-risk children in trauma-informed ways. The result? Our kids are more often penalized than protected.
Perpetrators and traffickers count on the absence of education about healthy sexuality. They use disguises online with impunity, confident that our kids miscalculate the safety of their digital worlds. They exploit emotional vulnerability among our teens. Their threats to expose, violate, bully or otherwise harm our kids work because many young people believe offenders when they say they have no choice.

The Nest Program for the Right to Healthy Relationships is a powerful counterforce to these trends. At its heart is a high school curriculum designed to address the very gaps in knowledge and skills that traffickers and perpetrators exploit. Recognizing the importance of evidence and evaluation, Nest works closely with researchers from the RISE team at New York University. Located in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, members of the RISE team have deep expertise in developing, implementing, and evaluating innovative approaches to prevention and intervention with youth.


The Nest Program for the Right to Healthy Relationships classroom curriculum incorporates evidence-informed approaches to facilitate student skill development across two key domains:

• Understanding and asking for consent
• Recognizing signs of healthy relationships across a spectrum of interpersonal relationships (i.e., including, but not limited to romantic or sexual relationships)
• Safety planning
• Recognizing risky situations and identifying relational and contextual risk factors, with an emphasis on both in-person and online interactions
• Effective bystander interventions addressing a range of risky contexts, including bullying, abuse and risk for exploitation

• Sociopolitical vocabulary and awareness
• Critical analysis and understanding of media and other forms of content
• Identification of societal problems and solutions, at the interpersonal, community, and societal levels
• Creative, cause-oriented expression and activism

Additionally, evidence-informed activities at the beginning and end of each lesson facilitate students in developing mindfulness and distress
tolerance skills, and provide transitions into and out of class.


“The Nest Foundation’s lessons were, and are, a perfect match for my [Leadership Class]. What I was looking for were meaningful lessons backed by authentic information, and a way for students to feel like they could make a difference and become defenders of human rights in some way. The development of the Nest curriculum is centered around this idea and ends with students not only creating a way to make that difference, but to also plan for future actions. This program has great potential to impact society and empower our younger generations to feel like they have a voice in improving conditions for many people.”

Jill DiCuffa, Ann Richards School, Texas




Perpetrators often isolate victims and one of their most effective tools is to convince victims that no one will believe them or that they will suffer great shame by disclosing. Through the Nest Prevention Education program, we emphasize the importance of building the capacity of teachers, school counselors, and other adults to pick up on the signs of exploitation, set boundaries for safely sharing personal information, and to respond in trauma-informed ways.

We are currently developing a two-day training program that allows educators, counselors, and other school staff to learn about sexual exploitation and trafficking in the United States and how they can leverage their positions to intervene and support the young people in their classrooms who may reach out for help. As part of this effort, we are creating a Teacher Resource area on the Nest website that lists local and national resources as well as reporting protocols, guides, and other valuable information. Stay tuned!



student-led community engagement

More often than not, students who participate in the Nest Prevention Education Program are motivated to share what they’ve learned with their friends and wider school community. As part of a capstone project at the end of the curriculum, students have started online campaigns, petitions, print posters, banners, and even music videos!

Student activism even inspired us to launch Nest Student Forums. Students and teachers who are interested in starting a club on campus in Portland, OR, are encouraged to start a chapter with our amazing friends at Youth Ending Slavery. If you’re in another city, click below to receive the Nest Club toolkit and start a chapter in your school!



curriculum advisory board

The Nest Academic Advisory Board is composed of high school teachers, college professors, legal professionals, and other experts who review and guide our prevention education efforts. These individuals lend their expertise to both the content and structure of our pilot program and are supporting our us as we continue to refine and expand the Nest Prevention Education Program.
To join the Academic Advisory Board, please contact us.


Michele Clark



GWU Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs NYU Steinhardt Professor, Department of Applied Psychology Florida International University Professor, College of Arts, Sciences and Education
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GWU Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs

Michele's professional career has focused on policy and practical initiatives to create empowerment and educational opportunities for women and girls. She is an internationally recognized expert on combating trafficking in human beings. She is currently an adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs. In 2011, she received the Morton A. Bender Teaching Award for Outstanding Teaching. Previously, she served as the Director of the Anti-Trafficking Unit at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna, Austria, where she was responsible for assisting 56 member countries in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Before moving to Vienna, she was the Co-Director of the Protection Project at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, a human rights organization dedicated to eliminating human trafficking. She is also the Chief Academic Officer for Cognotion, an education technology company with a social conscience specializing in developing innovative web-based solutions to prepare today’s youth to enter the global marketplace. Working with the staff of the Global Women's Institute, she was the Editor and Curriculum Designer for the Malala Resource Guide, based on the memoir of Malala Yousafzai.


NYU Steinhardt Professor, Department of Applied Psychology

Shabnam Javdani is a clinical and community psychologist who examines the development of, and social response to, violence and crime, with a focus on intervention development and system’s reform for women and girls. Her program of research is characterized by a social justice focus, with an emphasis on the application of research for the urban poor and in under-resourced communities. Javdani completed her doctoral work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012, and completed psychiatric clinical internship in the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently an assistant professor at New York University, and a recent recipient of NYU's Gabriel Carras Research Award for her work on gender-specific pathways to crime and recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Faculty award for her social justice-focused research and intervention. Her work, including over 30 manuscripts and chapters, has been funded by the National Institute of Justice and the National Institutes of Health, and is published in top tier peer-reviewed journals, including Clinical Psychology Review, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, and the American Journal of Community Psychology.


Florida International University Professor, College of Arts, Sciences and Education

Dr. Kenny is a Professor in the College of Arts, Sciences and Education, at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Dr. Kenny has published extensively in the area of child abuse, particularly sexual abuse prevention and education as well as professionals’ compliance with child abuse reporting. Dr. Kenny’s work has been published in the top child abuse journals. She was the director of an externally funded project, Kids Learning about Safety, a primary prevention program geared toward Latino families in Miami Dade. Dr. Kenny is a licensed psychologist in Florida, a Nationally Board Certified Counselor and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association.




Director, Child and Adolescent Health, ABA Center on Children and the Law Director of Anti-Sex Trafficking Initiatives High School Advisor — Madison High School
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Director, Child and Adolescent Health, ABA Center on Children and the Law

As director of the Center’s child and adolescent health projects, Eva Klain researches and analyzes legal responses to children’s exposure to violence, polyvictimization and trauma-informed advocacy, the health and developmental needs of children and adolescents, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, statutory rape, domestic minor sex trafficking, and sexual exploitation of children. Ms. Klain also works as a liaison from the Children’s Bureau’s Capacity Building Center for Courts to help Court Improvement Programs identify their priorities and achieve their goals. As part of this effort, she serves on the leadership team of a Constituency Group to address the sex trafficking provisions of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act. She previously worked on criminal child abuse issues for the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse and spent a year working with the High Court of Prague to improve the Czech Republic's response to family violence and child maltreatment. Ms. Klain received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University and her law degree, cum laude, from Georgetown University.


Director of Anti-Sex Trafficking Initiatives

Adrienne Livingston began getting involved in the Anti-Sex Trafficking movement in 2013. In October of 2014, she became the Director of Anti-Sex Trafficking Initiatives with WorldVenture. She is on the Rotary End Sex Trafficking Now Committee, a board member of Door To Grace and Volunteers of America Oregon and is the past Co-Chair of Multnomah County’s Victims Services Implementation Team. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, International Business and International Studies from Oregon State University and her Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Western Seminary.


High School Advisor — Madison High School

Julenne Qualls has taught health education in the Portland Public School district for the last 28 years. Her years of experience include middle and high school health. Presently she is teaching at Madison High School and enjoys the diversity of the Madison community. As part of her curriculum she implements project based learning in which students learn to plan, organize and advocate health related issues. These projects are presented in Madison classrooms and our local community. In addition to her work as a teacher she loves yoga, traveling and spending time in or on the water.



Jen Shakeshaft

Stanford Professor of Education and Sociology High School Advisor — Madison High School High School Advisor — Director of Member & Administrative Services at NCGS (National Coalition of Girls' Schools)
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Stanford Professor of Education and Sociology

Francisco O. Ramirez is Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology at Stanford University. His current research interests focus on the rise and institutionalization of human rights and human rights education, on the worldwide rationalization of university structures and processes, and on terms of inclusion issues as regards gender and education. His work has contributed to the development of the world society perspective in the social sciences. Recent publications appear in American Sociological Review, Higher Education, and Comparative Education.


High School Advisor — Madison High School

Suzy Setterholm has taught health education at Madison High School in Portland, Oregon for over 20 years. She is also the leadership class adviser and the campus activities director. Over the years she has coached track and field and advised both the school newspaper and yearbook. As a 1985 Madison grad, Suzy has a deep commitment to the school and would not want to teach anywhere else. She loves the diversity of the student body and is always humbled by the thoughtfulness that her students demonstrate for one other and their community. In addition to her work as a teacher she also volunteers her time with the Krayon Kids Musical Theatre Co. She is involved in every aspect of Krayon Kids, from script writing to backstage work. She has been an assistant director since Krayon Kids began in 1993 and has helped write both for the original plays and the Elite Travel Troupe. Suzy has a life-long love of theater and believes it makes a real difference in children’s lives. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing fiction, photography and traveling. Suzy graduated from the University of Oregon with a B.S. in health education and a secondary emphasis in journalism in 1990.


High School Advisor — Director of Member & Administrative Services at NCGS (National Coalition of Girls' Schools)

Jen brings over a decade of teaching and education administration experience to her new role as the Director of Strategic Initiatives & Professional Development for the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. As a proud graduate of The Madeira School, an all-girls school in Virginia, she also understands first-hand the transformative power of an all-girls education. Jen has retained strong ties to her alma mater, initially as the Assistant Director of Alumnae Relations, and most recently as a member, Secretary, and Co-Chair of the Head of School Search Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Prior to joining NCGS, Jen taught middle and upper school Mandarin Chinese at the Latin School of Chicago. While there, she helped create a new proficiency-based curriculum with an emphasis on proper sequencing and the incorporation of technology. Previously, Jen served as the Associate Dean of Upper School Admission and the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Cranbrook Schools (MI) and as the Associate Director for External Relations at Lake Forest Academy (IL).

Jen earned her B.A. in Asian Studies and Religion from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University.



Sandy K. Wurtele

SMU Clinical Associate Professor High School Advisor — David Douglas High School University of Colorado Colorado Springs Associate Dean and Psychology Professor
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SMU Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Misty Solt is a Licensed Professional Counselor- Supervisor in the state of Texas. Dr. Solt is also a National Certified Counselor, Registered Play Therapy Supervisor, and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. Dr. Solt received her Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Eastern Illinois University in 1998 and completed her Doctorate in Counseling with a specialty in Play Therapy at the University of North Texas in 2003.

Over the years, Dr. Solt has worked as a counselor in the following areas: school crisis counseling, in-home counseling, agency counseling, and private practice. Dr. Solt is currently serving on full-time faculty as an Associate Clinical Professor at SMU. Prior to serving on faculty, she was the Clinic Director of the SMU Center for Family Counseling for three years. Dr. Solt has also served as the Assistant Director of the Center for Play Therapy and has been a Supervisor for the Intensive Play Therapy Supervision component of the Summer Institute for 13 years. Dr. Solt has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at UNT in the areas of Practicum, Assessment, Filial Therapy, and Child Counseling.

In May of 2003, Dr. Solt opened the Child and Family Counseling Center, which provides counseling services to children, adolescents, and families, as well as supervision to LPC-interns. Dr. Solt has served on Frisco Independent School District Hope Rising Team, which is a trauma response team to assist children and teens that have experienced a trauma or loss. Dr. Solt is also on the Board of Directors for Camp C.O.P.E., which is an intensive counseling experience offered to children of a deployed or injured parent serving in the military. Dr. Solt has authored various articles in the area of play therapy and is the author of “My Special Playtime”. Dr. Solt owns a book publishing company that focuses on producing books that creatively help engender a sense of predictability in a child’s life. Dr. Solt is a mother of three and resides in Frisco, Texas.

Kelsey Stiff

High School Advisor — David Douglas High School

Kelsey Stiff has taught health education at David Douglas High School in Portland, Oregon since 2014. Kelsey received her B.S. in Health Education from Western Oregon University in 2010, and her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from Concordia University in 2014. As a 2007 DDHS graduate, Kelsey is passionate about giving back to the David Douglas community that has given so much to her over the years. She loves working in such a diverse school, and enjoys learning about all of the different cultures that comprise the DDHS student body. In addition to working as a health educator, Kelsey is the Varsity Softball Coach and leads Young Life at DDHS. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband Darrick, traveling, cooking, and crafting.


University of Colorado Colorado Springs Associate Dean and Psychology Professor

Sandy K. Wurtele, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She is currently serving as Associate Dean of Community Partnerships and Programs for the College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. Dr. Wurtele is the author of educational and scholarly materials for professionals, parents, and children. Her evidenced-based personal safety program for children, Body Safety Training, is available in different teaching formats and languages. Dr. Wurtele has provided training and consultation to a number of national and international organizations. She served on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's Education Standards Task Force for developing Guidelines for Programs to Reduce Child Victimization and currently serves as the Child Protection Consultant for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington (DE) along with the USA Swimming Safe Sport Committee. She has authored or co-authored numerous scholarly articles and chapters, has written books for parents on CSA prevention (Off Limits; Out of Harm’s Way; Safe Connections), and co-authored the 1992 book for professionals, Child Sexual Abuse: Sharing the Responsibility. Dr. Wurtele has also received $234,000 in funding for research on CSA prevention, including a FIRST Award from the National Institute of Mental Health. She is the recipient of the 2009 William Friedrich Memorial Child Sexual Abuse Award, given in recognition of her work in preventing CSA.