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Modern slavery

To understand and appreciate that slavery still exists.

by Jude Scrutton

Suitable for Key Stage 2


To understand and appreciate that slavery still exists.

Preparation and materials

  • Prepare a group of Year 6 children for Step 1 of the assembly (the ‘intro’).
  • ‘Chains’ – can be purchased from hardware shops, or you could use paper- chains.


  1. Once the children are seated, teacher acts in an authoritative manner and abducts some Year 6 children from the back, chains them up and brings them to the front.
  2. Tell the children that they are at a market where they can buy people.

    Ask them what jobs they have to do at home or their parents hate doing at home.

    Tell them that they can buy the chained-up children to take home to be their domestic worker. Tell them not to worry that they might try to run away because you have taken their passports from them.

    Also, tell the children that the people they are buying will not be able to return to their own homes, and if they try to escape we will harm their families.

    Now ask them if they still want to buy a domestic worker.
  3. Ask the children what another word, or a more appropriate word, might be for this type of worker. Direct them to think about slavery and how this is different to employing a cleaner, ironer, window-cleaner or gardener. Ask children to list the differences.
  4. Discuss what slavery means:

    (a) (in Law) the state or condition of being a slave; a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune;
    (b) the subjection of a person to another person, especially in being forced into work;
    (c) the condition of being subject to some influence or habit;
    (d) (in Business/Industrial Relations & Human Resources terms) work done in harsh conditions for low pay.
  5. Discuss how we were, as a nation, implicit in the Slave Trade, which began in the sixteenth century, and that, by the eighteenth century, taking Africans as slaves was happening everywhere. But by early 1800 people began to fight for the slaves’ rights and freedom.

    Laws were passed to forbid people to own slaves.

    However, the practice still occurs today illegally. In many war-torn countries, people are attacked and sold as slaves. Some work as near to home as London or Manchester.

    This is unacceptable. As human beings it is important that we upheld basic civil rights.

    Each person has a right to be treated respectfully.
    Each person has the right to say no without explanation and without guilt.
    Each person has the right to slow down and take time to think.
    Each person has the right to change his or her mind.
    Each person has the right to ask for what he or she wants.
    Each person has the right to ask for information.
    Each person has the right to make mistakes.
    Each person has the right to make choices and accept the consequences of those choices.
    Each person has the right to own and express his or her own feelings.
    Each person has the right to ask for help.
    Each person has the right to maintain a separate self that is independent of the expectations, the approval or the influence of others.

Time for reflection

We are fortunate to live in a country that is not war torn, and we can be thankful for our human rights record. However, let us not ignore the fact that thousands of people are sold into slavery as part of international (sex and) domestic slavery.

Help us to think about people who are not in control of their own lives. Amen.


‘Redemption Song’ by Bob Marley, widely available to download.

Publication date: February 2011   (Vol.13 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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