As the Halton District School Board (HDSB) works to implement an anti-sex trafficking protocol in all schools as part of the start of the new school year, experts stress the importance of introducing mandatory parent council training to ensure long-term success.
Hailing Canada’s first initiative to prevent sex trafficking, they stress that parent education is essential, as it can take up to 18 months for parents to realize that their children are being trafficked.
The HDSB wrote this protocol in response to the provincial government’s directive for provincially funded school boards to develop region-specific anti-sex trafficking guidelines, beginning in January 2022.
Kelly Tallon Franklin, a recognized expert and ally of advocates for sex trafficking survivor leaders, their organizations and agencies across Canada, commended the Department of Education and its Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force for their hard work, observing that “it’s a good start, but not enough.”
A survivor herself, Franklin has worked with over 527 young survivors of sex trafficking and their families in Ontario. She suggests school boards introduce mandatory parent council training to educate guardian parents across the province to complement and reinforce the new protocol.
Last summer, the ministry released this policy framework for Ontario schools to protect children from sexual exploitation. The ministry’s task force made up of “people with lived experience, front-line community organizations that support survivors, Indigenous communities and organizations, representatives of black and racialized communities, newcomers and students applied its knowledge to develop the strategic framework.
The government is also investing $2.4 million to ensure implementation of the protocol. It may be noted here that “Ontario is a hub for human trafficking, with the highest number of police-reported human trafficking incidents in the country occurring in the province in 2019, accounting for approximately 55% of all police-reported incidents of human trafficking. nationally.”
Our local school board, HDSB, worked with the Halton Catholic District School Board and community partners to develop a local approach to the protocol. Its main areas of intervention are:
- Safe strategies to raise awareness and prevent sex trafficking
- Response and reporting procedures
- Annual training and staff awareness to teach and intervene
The school board also contacted the 2S-LGBTQIA community to obtain their input. “HDSB has adhered to all current guidelines and timelines set out in Policy Memorandum 166 (which outlines the policy framework for anti-sex trafficking protocols),” said Marnie Denton, Head of Communications and Engagement Services, HDSB, at Oakville News.
“Initial awareness training has taken place this year. This will be followed by a professional learning day to ensure comprehensive training and implementation across all schools,” Denton added.
In the meantime, parents can participate or even organize community events like the one hosted by North Oakville Ward 7 on human trafficking and sexual exploitation on April 20, 2022. Ron Chhinzer, police officer for 15 years and board member of Administration of the Residents Association said Franklin will attend this event “to educate and give our community the information needed to prevent this from happening to our children.”