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 shared 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.

“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 Anti-Trafficking Clubs In Jamaican Schools, 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 Anti-Trafficking Clubs in Jamaican schools 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.