What is Child Trafficking?
Child trafficking is the coercion, recruitment, or receipt of a young person under the age of 18 for the purpose of exploitation. It can take a variety of forms such as forced labour, criminal activities, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
The trafficker may use threats, force, violence, false promises, or other manipulation tactics to control the victim. Child trafficking is a global crisis that affects all countries, and minors of all ages, ethnicities, and genders can be victims. The UN’s 2020 report on Human trafficking states that roughly 30% of human trafficked victims are children and, for every 10 victims detected globally, two are girls.
Common Misconceptions about Child Trafficking
There are many misconceptions about what child trafficking looks like.
Children are kidnapped from their homes or physically held against their will. While this does happen, most traffickers operate by establishing trust with the victim and manipulating them into exploitation.
Offenders are strangers. They can be family members, caretakers, acquaintances and close family friends. Family members are involved in nearly half of child trafficking cases. This may be overlooked since it’s taboo to think that relatives would exploit people they love.
Offenders can come from any socioeconomic status, education level, race, age and gender. For example, a 27-year-old woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trafficking two young minor girls. She plied them with drugs and obtained explicit photos of one of the girls and used this to advertise her on a commercial sex trafficking website.
Child trafficking is limited only to developing countries like Thailand and the Philippines. This is false because high-income, developed nations like the United States is highly common.
How does this relate to the work we do?
A common form of child trafficking is sexual exploitation. Reports have risen online with the development of technology and increased access and use of the internet by offenders and victims. Through the misuse of tools such as social media, it facilitates recruitment and exploitation of child victims. For instance, offenders can make fake profiles, identify potential victims, establish a relationship, and start sexually exploiting them online. They may be forced to produce sexual material that may be saved, shared and sold with others. INHOPE’s mission is to remove this child sexual abuse material online (CSAM). Our objective is to eradicate this abuse and improve the protection of children online.
How to help stop child trafficking?
To act, we need to know what we have to look out for and recognise the signs of a child who may be trafficked. Operation Underground Railroad is an amazing organisation that works to eradicate child trafficking through coordinated rescue and recovery planning. They support operation and aftercare efforts in 22 countries and 34 US states. Read the survivor success stories here.
If you think that a young person is in trouble or you would like to anonymously report a suspected incidence of child trafficking, please contact your local law enforcement officials.
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