ECPAT-USA’s Youth Against Child Trafficking (Y-ACT) program empowers youth to take the lead in anti-human trafficking efforts. ECPAT-USA trains students to be the foremost advocates in their communities and among their peers, educating them on the facts, misconceptions, and risks of trafficking. Students are provided the tools needed to identify the warning signs and proper resources to protect themselves and their peers.
During one early morning workshop, the education team saw a student transition from avoiding the workshop altogether to becoming an active participant and advocate by the end. Prior to the class session, the Y-ACT educators positioned the chairs in a semicircle at the center of the room. At the start of the period, instead of sitting in the semicircle with the rest of their classmates, this student opted to find a seat behind a desk in the back left corner of the room. When handing out the pre-workshop questionnaires, the educators asked the student to join the rest of the group if they felt comfortable.
The student replied, “Do I have to?”
In response, the student was told, “We would like you to participate with the rest of the group and hear what you have to say.”
The student still did not seem interested and was working on their questionnaire slowly. After the other students had finished their questionnaire, the educators told the student it was okay to take their time with it and that they could pick it up later. The student became more comfortable, and started to focus on the worksheet. Just as the workshop was about to begin, a teacher from the school prompted the student to join the rest of the group. The student sighed, and begrudgingly moved to the front seat of the semi-circle next to a desk so they could continue working on their questionnaire.
At the start of the workshop, the student seemed disinterested and was not participating. As the slides continued, the student began raising their hand and contributing to the discussion. They felt particularly passionate about location features on smartphones and how they never share their location with strangers. They even mentioned specific location features on apps like Snapchat and Instagram that students should avoid using.
The student told the others in the room, “Never share your location on your IG (Instagram) story if you’re still there. Just wait til’ your home.”
As the workshop progressed, the student engaged with other students’ comments and consistently raised their hand to be in the discussion, showing that the material sparked an interest for the student. After the workshop concluded, the student engaged in discussion with the educators about what they could add to the program. Specifically, the student told the educators they thought the workshop should cover topics pertaining to online gaming. Overall, this student went from disengaged, to becoming an active advocate in the classroom and among their peers, demonstrating the importance of online safety to their peers and educators.
Learn more about ECPAT-USA’s Y-ACT program at https://www.ecpatusa.org/youtheducation.
Download ECPAT-USA’s free Guides to Online Safety for Youth, Parents/Guardians, and Educators here: https://www.ecpatusa.org/onlinesafetytips.