New Ontario Policy Released To Protect Students from Sex Trafficking

The announcement on the new policy framework being made at the Langstaff Secondary School. Pic: MPP Laurie Scott

TORONTO: The Ontario government is releasing a new policy framework, the first of its kind in Canada, as part of its strategy for school boards to protect students from the heinous crime of sex trafficking.

With the goal of keeping children and youth safe from sexual exploitation, this new strategy and framework recognizes the critical role schools can play in combatting sex-trafficking.

Sadly, the majority of police reported trafficking in Canada takes place in Ontario. The announcement was made by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education, Daisy Wai, MPP for Richmond Hill, and Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, who were joined by Casandra Diamond, Founder and Director of BridgeNorth Women’s Mentorship & Advocacy Service.

That updated curriculum positioned Ontario as a leader by including mandatory learning to protect students against sex trafficking. As part of its strategy to combat human trafficking, the new policy framework requires all school boards to have a plan and anti-human trafficking protocols in place to protect students.

The Ontario government is investing $2.4 million in necessary training and resources. This will ensure school boards and school staff have the tools to recognize, identify, respond and prevent the sex trafficking of children and youth.

The Keeping Students Safe – Policy Framework for School Board Anti-Sex Trafficking Protocols sets a strong foundation for Ontario school boards to establish key partnerships and regionally tailored anti-sex trafficking protocols. School boards will collaborate with community and police organizations with the goal of having protocols in place for all provincially-funded schools in January 2022.

The new effort outlines actions school boards must take to help protect students, including:

• Raising awareness and understanding of sex trafficking, including the urgency and complexity of combating the crime.

• Supporting procedures for students who are at risk or being sex trafficked, or who may be grooming and recruiting other students.

• Training school board employees, educators and administrators and other school staff.

• Establishing approaches to support accountability. The announcement builds on the leading efforts the Ontario government is making to protect students from human trafficking and sexual exploitation through raising awareness, including:

• Learning related to sex trafficking in the elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum. 

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