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Anti-Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is a form of sexual exploitation which can involve luring, grooming and exploitation of children and young people for the purposes of sex. It can involve the use of force, physical and/or psychological coercion and/or deception. Most victims are under 24 years old and some as young as 13 years old, making this responsibility to prevent sex trafficking in schools essential. Most individuals who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation are women and girls; however, individuals from all genders may be targeted. The Ontario Ministry of Education requires all school boards to educate staff, students and parents/guardians about sex trafficking prevention and intervention. Such actions will continue to build meaningful awareness about sex trafficking which honors student voice, identities and promotes consistent culturally responsive supports for students. This will also help prevent, identify, and recognize sex trafficking to ensure appropriate and quick interventions.

Sex trafficking is a form of sexual exploitation and is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada. It involves the use of force, fraud, physical or psychological coercion or deception and is facilitated by a third person. It can include recruiting, harbouring, transporting, obtaining, or providing a person for the purpose of sex. Most individuals who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation are women and girls and marginalized communities are at higher risks of exploitation although anyone may be targeted.

For additional information please see the Ministry of Education

TDSB Anti-Sex Trafficking Policy

  • Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative crimes worldwide.
  • Increasing risks for students, especially since the pandemic and spending more time on social/digital media.
  • With the average age of recruitment into sex trafficking in Canada being 13 years old, school-aged children and youth are prime targets for traffickers for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
  • Students face a multitude of diverse and intersecting factors that increase their vulnerability to violence and harm. They may have difficulty identifying warning signs of sex trafficking, recognizing when they may be in danger and knowing how to seek help.
  • Given the high rates and destructive impacts of sex trafficking in Ontario, there is an urgent need to establish an active, province-wide role for education, in collaboration with other sectors and partners. While strong policies and programming are protective against these threats, teachers and school staff play a vital role in building student awareness, supporting student mental health and being a frontline contact for students in crisis.
  • The education sector can play a powerful role to safeguard the safety, mental health and well-being of school-aged children and youth by helping to recognize, prevent and respond to sex trafficking.
  • Education staff can spot the warning signs and safely connect those who are, have been or are at risk of being trafficked to the appropriate supports and culturally responsive community programs and services.
  • Unique role of Schools in preventing Sex trafficking For additional information please see the Ministry of Education
  • TDSB Anti-Sex Trafficking Policy

Due to almost contact with students, teachers and other education staff daily are well placed to educate on prevention and promote healthy relationships, notice troubling changes in behaviour, and connect with students as caring adults. By training staff to recognize the signs of sex trafficking, they will be better equipped to identify the cues and safely intervene if they suspect a student is being trafficked or involved in trafficking. Education can also serve as a key factor in helping survivors of trafficking heal and rebuild their lives, helping to prevent re-victimization and resetting students on a healing trajectory towards positive outcomes.

Historical and ongoing trauma with the education system can be a barrier to the meaningful participation of Indigenous parents, caregivers, and communities. School boards should consider specific outreach and supports to Indigenous parents and caregivers, as well as groups that are disproportionately impacted by trafficking, to build their awareness and participation

Myths and facts about sex trafficking
Myths Facts
Sex Trafficking happens overseas, when Girls/children are kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery 90% of all victims of sex trafficking are domestic (Canadian).
Youth from “good homes” are not sexually exploited. Social inequities, such as racism, poverty and intergenerational heighten vulnerability to being targeted by traffickers, BUT all youth/children from ALL backgrounds can be the targets or victims of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation and human trafficking are crimes and sexually exploited youth can be victims from any socio-economic/ homes.
Sexually exploited youth engage in unlawful activities, are criminal and associate with criminals. Sexually exploited youth have been manipulated and coerced by traffickers. Please read more on coercive control and other tactics used by traffickers to lure, groom and sexually exploit children/youth.
Sex Traffickers are all male. While traffickers are predominantly male, there are cases of female traffickers, including women and girls who may also be victims of human trafficking themselves and forced to recruit others.
Males are not sexually exploited. 96% of victims of trafficking are girls and women but boys and men can be targeted as well.
Sex Workers are victims of sex trafficking. Adults, 18+, who choose to engage in paid sex work on their own terms and who are not coerced, controlled or exploited by another person are not victims of sex trafficking.

To learn more about sex trafficking myths, facts and case studies see “Speak Out. Stop Sex Trafficking” funded by the Ontario Government; partner include Chiefs of Ontario, Ganohkwasra Family Assault Support Services, Independent First Nations, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Ontario Native Women’s Association, and others.

Traffickers use tactics to identify and groom vulnerable children and youth by fulfilling their unmet needs – such as love, affection, a sense of belonging and other basic needs like housing or food security – and/or by using threats, psychological coercion, physical violence and control. An unstable home life and past trauma, as well as other factors such as a history of childhood abuse or involvement with the child welfare system, can leave students more susceptible to being trafficked.

Traffickers can use tactics such as befriending students on online platforms and pretending to be a love interest or encouraging the student to leave their rural/remote community to come to the city for work. Isolating the victim from family and friends is the ultimate goal, followed by normalization of abuse through a gradual grooming process.

  • Female identifying women and girls continue to make up the majority of those who are targeting for sex trafficking. “Human trafficking in the sex trade is one of the most extreme forms of gender-based violence and disproportionately affect women and girls” Aura Freedom. (2021, November 25). Human Trafficking Info Hub. Retrieved from: Human Trafficking Info Hub's Website.
  • Systemic racism and discrimination have led to a disproportionate number of Indigenous and Black children and youth in care, which can lead to a lack of consistent relationships with caring adults and peers in schools.
  • Indigenous peoples are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking due to historic and ongoing systemic discrimination, including intergenerational trauma resulting from residential schools and the “Sixties Scoop”. First Nation youth transitioning from remote Northern communities to schools in urban centres can also face increased safety risks.
  • Language barriers, isolation, economic disadvantage or a lack of community and social supports may leave newcomer youth with increased vulnerability to being sex trafficked.
  • Students with varying abilities and disabilities may experience bullying and isolation in addition to having difficulty understanding the intentions of others.
  • Students who are 2SLGBTQQIA+ experience high rates of bullying, assaults, and sexual abuse, and they may face isolation or displacement if they experience rejection from their family or the community.

Please see TDSB Urban Indigenous Education Center

Further Information:

Cyber security and families work together with their children and schools to address the positive and negative uses of the internet; popular social medial platforms are new ways for traffickers to target their victims.

For more information on Cyber security and to report abuse and sex exploitation please see Report – To find support in getting images of child exploitation offline, please see also see – Facebook.

Resources for online bullying/misogyny, sexual image-based abuse, online safety tools, and more at Dandelion Initiative’s Online Safety Tools.

A disclosure from child/youth can be very sensitive and difficult them and places them in a vulnerable position. Please keep this in mind as you interact with the child/young person:

  • Be sensitive to their unique experiences and use a non-judgemental approach. Listen to the child/young person without judgement.
  • Be aware of your body language and facial expression. As we do not want the child/youth to shut down and/or feel blamed.
  • Be sensitive to their unique experiences. Listen to the child/young person without judgement.
  • Consider your biases. Be aware of your body language when speaking to your child/young person.
  • DO reach out. Your school principal, social worker, and/or community agencies can provide great support, care and advice for parents/guardians and caregivers.
  • DO provide safety by being present for your child/young person. A disclosure from a child/young person can be very scary and you may feel overwhelmed. Know just being physically present and providing space to listen can be impactful.
  • DO believe what the child/young person tells you. A common reaction to a child’ disclosure is denial. Questions like “Are you sure that’s what the person meant?” are not helpful when disclosure is happening. Sometimes it is difficult to believe based on your relationship or image of the person.
  • DO consult child/young person welfare and police. If you suspect that the child or another child is being abused, report/seek advice with the proper authorities.
  • DO find culturally responsive and identity affirming supports. Historically, Indigenous communities had sexual abuse thrust upon them by Indian Residential Schools and Day Schools. Triggers often arise, so seeking supports at the local friendship centre, Indigenous health agency or other cultural sites, and at Indigenous anti-trafficking service providers is important. Adult Survivors may not realize that they are Survivors until they have interacted with others. Building cultural supports into discussions is important.

Please visit the TDSB Anti-Sex Trafficking Webpage for details on what we have and continue to do to raise awareness and prevent sex/human trafficking.


Human trafficking also involves victims and witnesses in vulnerable situations who are fearful or distrustful of authorities or who are facing threats from the traffickers. This means that the true scope of human trafficking in Canada is underestimated.