Sunday, December 1, 2013

Teaching The "S" Word: Modern Slavery Resources

Source: Free the Slaves
It’s that time of year when we delight in the spirit of merry-making with family and friends, and when young children anticipate gifts for Hanukkah and Christmas. Like most others, we tend to get caught up in the spirit of the season.

Heading home for the holidays seems a natural part of the winter break from school, and it should be. Yet for many, this is not the case. Today, there are more slaves than in any other period in history, and many of them are children. Modern slavery is the most important human rights issue of our time.

Human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking. The estimated number of modern slaves across the globe is 21 - 30 million. The following video on the Top 10 Facts About The "S" Word produced by Free the Slaves is a powerful motion graphic highlighting the key issues about slavery today.

As educators, we continually look for resources to help our learners realize that slavery is not a thing of the past. Many of the websites featured in this post provide ample material for teachers to use in their classrooms. For example, Free the Slaves also has an interactive map with statistics on slavery by regions around the world. Our students were surprised to see that there are over 14,000 incidents of modern slavery in the United States. It was a real eye-opener for them.

Source: Free the Slaves

Sold is another motion graphic produced by RockPaperInk. It's another excellent resource to use with younger students. Kids know what products are, but when this film makes the point that children are the fastest growing "product" over corn and oil, it hits home. It's hard for them to fathom that not only are these children considered products, but also that many of them are sold more than once.

Each year over 2 million children disappear; that's equivalent to the population of Chicago disappearing. Kids get that. This video is a powerful reminder of the plight of so many, but it gives us hope. This movie is the trailer for the full-length feature film, Sold, adapted from the novel of the same name by Patricia McCormick and scheduled for release in 2014. It's the story of one little girl who makes it out of bondage.

Human trafficking continues to grow at alarming rates across the globe. This brings us to our last resource on modern slavery from Youth for Human Rights, and it is perhaps the most poignant. In it a teacher walks through a museum describing the horrors of slavery in American history, but as she does, pulsating images of modern slavery flash in between as she talks. The ultimate moment is when a young student asks, "Does this still happen today?" The teacher remains speechless. The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

As difficult as it is to talk about the "S" word, it is a necessity. Slavery of Africans to the Americas is part of our history that ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. Sadly, slavery continues today. Let's not make the mistake of thinking it's over, or that it's happening someplace else in the world. As educators, we need to keep the topic of slavery on the front burner. Shining a light on the issue will empower our students to be outspoken about it. The more we develop empathy and concern, the more likely we can help prevent one more silent, invisible child from disappearing in the dark world of human trafficking.
Source: Sold
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