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Our Responsibility: Education as Prevention

This September, we will see a back to school season different from any before. For many students, after enduring online learning for over a year, they will return to classrooms, to playgrounds, and to spending time with new teachers and friends. 

As exciting as this return to in-person learning is, it can also bring about many fears among parents, educators, and students. Parents will once again release the responsibility of their child to someone else and trust that that child will be safe. Unfortunately, these students who are returning to school are among one of the most vulnerable populations for human trafficking, potentially posing a risk to this safety. A large part of this vulnerability can be attributed to the lack of education young children are exposed to on human trafficking.

As a future educator, I see so much hope in this decision.

Recently, the Ontario government announced that it will be mandatory for all school boards to develop and implement strategies to combat human trafficking and protect their students. This announcement is a huge step forward in the battle against human trafficking amongst our youth. As a future educator, I see so much hope in this decision. We need to give educators and students the resources and knowledge they need to be informed about trafficking. I’ve previously heard the notion from parents that by not discussing difficult topics like human trafficking with our youth, we are “protecting” them from harsh realities.

But the truth is that protection and prevention come from education and having those important yet difficult conversations. Prevention stems from being proactive, educating children and their teachers about the signs of trafficking, the indicators and the red flags. By providing staff and students with the resources and tools they need to seek out additional community support. And lastly by building trust and instilling confidence in youth to come forward when they or a peer might be in trouble. 

We are capable of using education as a tool to protect and empower students and prevent trafficking.

As I work through my Bachelor of Education along with two years of experience working for an organization that deals directly with human trafficking, I hope to one day be able to share my experience and knowledge in the field with my future students through the implementation of these new strategies. As someone who did not know what human trafficking was until my early 20’s, I stand by the importance of the decision to make this learning mandatory in schools and I see how this can truly make a difference in the lives of students. We are capable of using education as a tool to protect and empower students and prevent trafficking. So we must have tough conversations, do the research, and continue to find ways in which we can use our knowledge as power. 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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