Students Learn to Recognize Human Trafficking
Grade Nine students were empowered with information on how to recognize human trafficking to prevent victimization.
The Community Partnerships & Engagement unit have partnered with Neighbourhood Community Officers to reach students to hear the presentation from Victim Services Toronto (VST).
VST Community Development Coordinator, Jasminder Sekhon, spoke to students at James Cardinal McGuigan Catholic High School on September 19.
“It is designed to increase education and awareness for young people about what human trafficking looks like, how human traffickers target young people and ways in which they keep themselves safe through education and empowerment,” said the Community Development Coordinator. “We are taking youth through the stages of commercial exploitation and what the traffickers actually do to target a victim.”
Students heard about how to recognize sex trafficking in their own relationships or among their peers.
“It is going from finding a vulnerable young person, treating them really well, getting to an abusive and control-type situation and then moving into the actual exploitation and how they can even use that person to exploit others. We also tell young people what the warning signs are and give them some educational knowledge around consent, healthy relationships and online violence. We know that these issues are inter-related and we want to make sure they get as much knowledge about all of these things.”
Over the years, VST has done presentations for students, parents and teachers free of cost.
“We have reached out to our Neighbourhood Community Officers to get in touch with as many schools so we can inform young people about the hazards of human trafficking and online exploitation,” said Constable Isabelle Cotton of the Community Partnerships & Engagement Unit.
York University Heights Neighbourhood Community Officer Constable Melody Carroll said schools recognize the value of this prevention.
“The staff at James Cardinal McGuigan and the superintendent for the schools in this area are very supportive of the police educating students and human trafficking is a major problem in this city and elsewhere,” she said.
Vice-Principal Tanya Dunn reached out to Carroll to come to her school to educate students.
“I feel that Grade Nine is a good place to start when we are talking about human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” said the educator. “We have a transition program that Toronto Police was part of, offering information to students going from Grade Eight to Nine. I want to make sure that we are addressing issues that will inform our young people.”
McGuigan student Angelli Armijos was excited to be part of the presentation.
“We are glad they are here to help us look out for things that are wrong and that might cause us harm,” the Grade Nine student said.
Shuaib Mohamed, a member of the Chief’s Youth Advisory Committee, attended the event.
“Human Trafficking affects all ages, especially young people, some of whom might be vulnerable,” he said. “Having them be educated at this point in their lives is a good thing.”
For more information on how to recognize human trafficking and support survivors, visit www.htsurvivors.to. To schedule a presentation for youth or parents in your neighbourhood, email [email protected]