A Greater Sudbury charity wants to start educating local students on how to avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking.
According to 2019 data from Statistics Canada, two in three victims of human trafficking were girls and young women, while one in five victims were girls aged 17 or younger.
Human trafficking consists of recruiting, transporting, detaining or harboring a person or exercising control or influence over their movements in order to exploit them.
Angels of Hope Against Human Trafficking works with survivors of human trafficking to support, guide and educate them and their loved ones.
“One of our mottos is: ‘We have to go upstream and understand why people have fallen into the river,’ said Cristina Scarpellini, founder and executive director of the association.
“So if we can rejuvenate them, empower them, let them feel confident, there’s a good chance – hopefully – that they won’t fall into a compromised situation.”
Angels of Hope Against Human Trafficking has designed an educational program for elementary and middle school students, and Scarpellini has announced plans to begin broadcasting it to schools later this month.
The program will be adapted to the appropriate ages. Although human trafficking is covered with older grades, the lessons will be different for younger ones.
“Softened language” for the youngest
“So we softened the language and called it ‘Empowered Kids Campaign,'” Scarpellini said.
“Although we don’t speak directly about human trafficking, it is related to human trafficking, because we empower children to make good decisions, to feel loved and to feel cared enough. comfortable telling someone if they’re in an uncomfortable situation,” she said. added.
Part of the program includes reading the book ‘I am perfectly designed‘ written by Karamo Brown, from the Netflix series weird eyeand son Jason ‘Rachel’ Brown.
Scarpellini says students will then choose an activity that will help them feel empowered, such as a skit, artwork, or written composition.
“We hope to empower kids and let them feel empowered and let them know they are loved because kids who are loved and empowered are less likely to fall into an unfavorable group of friends, they are more likely to say no in a toxic or uncomfortable situation,” she said.
“We want to empower these kids so they feel confident enough to say no and tell a trusted adult if something is wrong or something is wrong.”
High school students are the appropriate age to ‘start the conversation’
For high school students, the program will delve into human trafficking, the dangers and the signs or scenarios of how they might be lured into human trafficking.
“We feel they are an appropriate age to be able to engage in conversation with us.”
Scarpellini said their local statistics show human trafficking survivors are between 12 and 27 years old.
“This kind of thing happens in our community.”
“We want them to be aware of that, and we want them to also learn the tools to be able to say no to uncomfortable situations,” she said.
Angels of Hope Against Human Trafficking received a $64,300 grant from the provincial government to operate the educational program for one year.
The funding, announced in October 2021, is through the Civil Remedies Grant Program, for projects focused on helping victims of crime.
At that time, Attorney General Doug Downey said the government was “committed to strengthening all available tools, including civil forfeiture, to help police, prosecutors and local partners confront and dismantle the criminal networks that are attacking our communities.”
“Crime should never pay, and these seized funds will help communities support victims of crime and fight back to break the cycle of crime.”