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Clubs launched to open students’ eyes to trafficking

Published:Saturday | October 5, 2019 | 12:05 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

In a bid to boost awareness on the dangers of human trafficking, clubs have now been launched in a number of schools to open students’ eyes to what many term as modern-day slavery.

Fifteen high schools across the island now have functioning anti-trafficking clubs, as stakeholders move to ensure that teachers and pupils are aware of how traffickers operate, how to identify victims or suspicious persons as well as situations that could lead to trafficking.

The initiative was launched on Thursday at the Dunoon Park Technical High School in Kingston.

Along with Dunoon, Wolmer’s Boys’ School, Port Antonio High, Garvey Maceo High, Marymount High, Christiana High, Kingston Technical High, Yallahs High, Mount Alvernia High, Islington High, St Hilda’s Diocesan High, Vere Technical High, Kingston College, Vauxhall High, and Calabar High also have clubs.

The United States Department of State’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report ranks Jamaica at Tier 2, which means that anti-trafficking standards have not been met, but efforts are being made to stamp out the illicit and lucrative activity. Jamaica is considered a source and destination country for adults and children who are trafficked and forced to work.

Obtaining a Tier 1 status would indicate that the island has recognised human trafficking as a problem and has put measures in place to address underlying issues.

National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang explained on Thursday that the clubs will offer students a platform within their school communities to become more vigilant and to learn how to address instances of vulnerability.

To prevent criminal infiltration of these clubs, mentors and members are subjected to vetting on a basic level.

“Through increased awareness, especially among young people, they will learn how to detect and report suspicious activities, particularly when dealing with online predators. With more reports of potential traffickers, the security forces will be better able to infiltrate and dismantle more trafficking rings in Jamaica,” Chang said.

Showing support for the roll-out of the clubs in schools, manager of the Trafficking in Persons Secretariat Chenee Russell said the initiative is much needed.

“Young people are vulnerable to human trafficking. The implementation of Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs provides exposure and knowledge to students that contribute to a better understanding of human trafficking and the circumstances perpetuating this criminal trade,” she said.