Anti-human trafficking curriculum to be used in Waterloo Region District School Board
Lessons teach students about consent and how to spot traffickers
Teachers in the Waterloo Region District School Board will soon have access to new locally-developed anti-human trafficking curriculum.
The curriculum is called RESET, which stands for recognizing exploitation, a syllabus to end trafficking. It is a series of lessons aimed at students in Grade 7 and 8 that teaches them how to spot would-be traffickers, and what to do if they think a friend is at risk.
Starting in the new year, the school board will offer the lessons as a resource to Grade 7 and 8 teachers and to secondary school physical education teachers.
Young teenagers are often a target for human traffickers, according to the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.
The curriculum will also be available to those who teach other subjects if they can find connections to their own course materials, according to Bill Lemon, the district's superintendent of student achievement and well-being.
Lemon said the lessons highlight the importance of consent in romantic relationships and staying safe online.
"Anything that we can do to enhance the traction of those messages with our students is going to be welcome," Lemon said.
The school board will also train teachers about what human trafficking looks like and what could make certain students vulnerable, Lemon said.
Provincial interest in curriculum
"We're really happy to see [the board] adopting and moving forward with the curriculum, especially considering the prevalence of trafficking within our region," said TK Pritchard, who developed the curriculum with the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.
"It's really important that we're having this conversation with young people, and I'm grateful that we're looking at using our curriculum as a tool for that lesson."
Pritchard said he's been surprised — but pleased — at the level of interest in the curriculum. Since the sexual assault centre released it in the fall, he said multiple school boards and about 17 community groups and agencies have expressed interest in adopting it.
"We're still working on how do we share the curriculum 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 curriculum.
The Waterloo Catholic District School board is also taking a look at the curriculum, and is expected to make a decision about it in January.