Online seminars tackling tough questions about human trafficking in Durham Region

Tue, Nov 22, 2022 5:00 PM GMT

Parents and caregivers are being encouraged to take advantage of free online seminars providing essential information about human trafficking.

The monthly seminars are part of Victim Services of Durham Region’s Sex Trafficking Education and Prevention (STEP) program, with the next session scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24. Participants are asked to sign up in advance at

The online education program has been developed in response to growing demand for information about human trafficking, said the agency’s executive director, Krista MacNeil.

“Demand for this information has exploded,” MacNeil said. “We’re out there; we’re vocal. We’re trying to make people aware of this issue.”

The program is aimed at parents and other caregivers in Durham Region. Participants will hear from a parent of a survivor, who can help them learn what human trafficking actually looks like in their community. There will be an opportunity to ask questions to the presenters at the end of the event.

Discussions during the seminars tackle some tough facts about the exploitation of young people in the sex trade. It is estimated that more than 70 per cent of sex trafficking survivors are under age 25. The average age of recruitment into the sex trade is 13, MacNeil said.

The seminars impart information about detecting signs of luring and grooming and means of intervention to prevent young people from becoming trapped in the sex trade.

The topic is stark and distressing, but the discussions are necessary, MacNeil said.

“The facts are what they are,” she said. “The alternative is that we’re not aware, we’re not educated.

“And what we know from experience is, it works.”

While the agency teams with police and other agencies to conduct its work, Victim Services is an autonomous entity, and clients are assured of confidentiality and discretion, MacNeil said.

Intervention is critical to prevent young people from being manipulated and exploited, she said.

“By the time (victims) are realizing something’s not right, they’re entrenched, and it’s very difficult for them to leave,” she said.

In addition to seminars Victim Services of Durham Region offers an online session on human trafficking for parents and caregivers. More information is available at under the training and resources section.


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