SMITHFIELD, Va. (WAVY) — It’s inside Smithfield High School teacher Matt Ployd’s government class where Monica’s Law came to life.
Students knew they had an assignment coming up where they would have to make a mock bill to demonstrate they knew how a bill becomes law.
But the students had a better idea.
“They said ‘why do we have to make this mock anything? What do we have to do to make this real?'” said Virginia government teacher Matt Ployd.
Students were paired up with Monica Charleston, a victim of human trafficking.
She was thrown into that dangerous world at just 15 years old.
“I was told i was going to be a star, so i didn’t understand what was going on, I thought this person was interested in me,” Charleston said.
It took 8 years for her to finally get away from the man who controlled her every move.
“I wound up escaping from him, he tried to kill me for the umpteenth time,” Charleston said.
She shared her story with students.
“It didn’t hit me hard until I saw Monica get up here, and tear up, and ripped off her armor and told us what happened to her,” said student Emily Babyak.
“I could consider her a very good friend, the bravery it takes to tell random people this kind of story is admirable to say the least,” said student Jonathan Gregory.
Over a handful of semesters, students helped draft the bill and now students are working on lobbying for it.
Monica’s Law would help victims with a number of things that include medical and psychological rehabilitation, and help to expunge victims’ records.
“We have 30 days, which ends November 15, to get 100,000 signatures. If they get 100,000 signatures this has the chance of being presented on the Senate floor.” said Ployd.
“Getting that signature would protect people who have been through it like myself who have gotten out,” Charleston said.
If you would like to read over the bill the students drafted or sign the petition, click here.