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Passion for human rights took pupils to the Home Office

Pupils from a Swansea secondary school became so passionate about the horrors of human trafficking that they took their campaign straight to the Home Office.

Last week, TES Cymru reported how a new Assembly committee is to investigate the scale of trafficking of women and children in Wales, calling on schools to keep better track of young people who go missing from school registers.

But 25 students from Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr have already taken matters into their own hands with a 100-name petition given to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith.

Pupils started researching trafficking during meetings with Amnesty International. Year 13 pupil and head boy Owen John, founder of the school's Amnesty group - one of the largest school groups in Wales - said it was an issue that young people needed to know about.

He is pictured above with some of the group with the masks they have made. "I decided it was important and something that a lot of people would be interested in," he said.

According to Owen, few pupils were aware of the problem of trafficking before the school's campaign.

"I went into all the Year 7 RE classes and asked if any pupils knew about human trafficking, and only a couple had any idea.

"Even some sixth-formers and some of those at the meetings didn't know about it. All people need to be aware of this problem, but in the future I think it's important that we have a generation that really understands what's going on.

"I think all the issues that Amnesty focuses on regarding justice are so relevant to our lives today."

Thirty pupils, aged between 12 and 18, regularly attend the Amnesty meetings, where they discuss topics as diverse as the plight of asylum-seekers and human rights in China.

Owen said the school had been supportive, subsidising the protest trip to London, during which the pupils also had the opportunity to visit Amnesty's headquarters.

At present, there are around 16 school Amnesty groups in Wales.

Photograph: West Digital.

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