- As part of the need to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in School initiative will be officially launched in October.
- So far, 11 high schools, including Port Antonio High and Garvey Maceo High, have committed to be a part of the programme.
- Head of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Vice Squad in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Carl Berry, tells JIS News that one of the main reasons human trafficking is believed to be expanding is because of how clandestine it is.
As part of the need to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking, the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in School initiative will be officially launched in October.
So far, 11 high schools, including Port Antonio High and Garvey Maceo High, have committed to be a part of the programme.
Head of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Vice Squad in the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Carl Berry, tells JIS News that one of the main reasons human trafficking is believed to be expanding is because of how clandestine it is.
“It is also believed that it’s a lucrative and nefarious crime… [and] it belongs to transnational organised crime. Vulnerable groups exist across the population; however, key vulnerability exists within the youth,” he says.
“So, arising from a discussion we had with the youth… we decided to re-engage and gave them an opportunity to tell us what it is that kids really need. One of the things that came out was that kids want an opportunity to teach kids… to learn from each other, and they want us as adults to supervise them along the process,” he adds.
DSP Berry notes that as a result, the decision was taken, arising from discussions with the Port Antonio High School, to start the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Clubs in School initiative.
“We have triggered this cell within the school to allow kids to meet at a specific time within the school period to have discussions around the topic,” he explains.
Human Trafficking is defined by law as the transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
According to the Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, child trafficking is recognised as one of the most grievous forms of child abuse.
Children can be trafficked for criminal activities, such as pickpocketing, transportation of drugs; domestic servitude, such as house cleaning; forced labour on agricultural farms or in factories; and sexual exploitation.
DSP Berry tells JIS News that the decision was taken to focus on high schools at first, “as we want to get the groups who are moving from one vulnerability to the next”.
“They are coming out of that young teen situation for those moving on to university or into the job world. And we know that a big part of what criminals want are those young people who want an opportunity and make themselves more vulnerable,” he says.
“The intention is to have it across the schools, and that will include primary schools at some point in the future,” he adds.
Meanwhile, DSP Berry says it is hoped that from this initiative, there will be a reduction in crime.
“We are seeing it building trust between the youth and the police. As you know, we have been losing that respect and trust, so you will see improvement in the relationship between the two groups,” he adds.
He points out that the students will be able to have direct interaction with law enforcement, which he says is important, especially in instances where children try to protect themselves against the criminals who are after them.
DSP Berry further notes that the clubs will facilitate increased knowledge and awareness.
“The single best way to protect yourself from human trafficking is to educate yourself out of it. So, our intention is to provide the kids with enough information about the crime so that they can make sensible decisions, especially when they navigate the social platform. We also know that if we educate one child, chances are you will educate a lot more based on how they currently interact with each other,” he tells JIS News.
DSP Berry says the school clubs will be driven mainly through the Guidance Counselling and Deans of Discipline Departments in the schools.
He adds that it is expected that students will return to their communities with the knowledge and then pass it on to other persons.
“We want this information to go into the spaces that the average person may not be able to go. Because the kids are from there, once we give them this knowledge, they are able to go back in their communities to share this information. So, many more people will be getting this information than we could have given to them using the platforms that are available to us,” he says.