Teachers in the Waterloo Region District School Board will soon have access to a new locally developed anti-trafficking curriculum.
The program is called RESET, which stands for Recognize Exploitation, a program to end trafficking. This is a series of lessons for Grades 7 and 8 that teaches them how to spot potential traffickers and what to do if they think a friend is in danger.
Beginning in the new year, the school board will be offering the lessons as a resource to grade 7 and 8 teachers and high school physical education teachers.
Young adolescents are often the target of human traffickers, according to the Sexual Assault Support Center of the Region of Waterloo.
The program will also be available to those who teach other subjects if they can find connections to their own course material, according to Bill Lemon, the district’s superintendent of student achievement and well-being.
Lemon said the lessons highlight the importance of consent in dating relationships and online safety.
“Anything we can do to improve the traction of these messages with our students will be welcome,” Lemon said.
The school board will also train teachers on what human trafficking looks like and what could make some students vulnerable, Lemon said.
Provincial interest in the curriculum
“We are really happy to see [the board] embrace and move forward with the program, especially given the prevalence of trafficking in our area, ”said TK Pritchard, who developed the program with the Sexual Assault Support Center in Waterloo Region.
“It is really important that we have this conversation with the young people, and I am grateful that we are looking at the use of our program as a tool for this lesson.”
Pritchard said he was surprised – but happy – at the level of interest in the program. Since the Sexual Assault Center released it in the fall, it has said several school boards and about 17 community groups and organizations have expressed interest in adopting it.
“We are still working on how to share the program more widely and meet the demand to share it with other communities,” he said.
Earlier this fall, the Trillium Lakelands District School Board north of Toronto was the first to announce that it would use the RESET program.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is also reviewing the curriculum and is expected to make a decision on this in January.