Child sex trafficking occurs when children are induced or persuaded to perform commercial sex acts, including prostitution and the production of pornography. This crime is illegal in the United States under federal law and worldwide under the International Trafficking in Persons Regulations (ITP).
Child sex trafficking is one of the most common forms of child labor, which occurs when a child is compelled to work under threat or force. Despite legal prohibitions, forced and compulsory child labor remains prevalent.
What is child trafficking?
Child trafficking is the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring, and/or receiving a child for commercial sexual exploitation or prostitution. The term “trafficking” is an umbrella for a range of different forms of child exploitation, and while it often conjures up images of children being kidnapped or smuggled from one country to another, in reality this is rarely the case, social workers and researchers say.
Most victims of sex trafficking are children younger than 18 and are identified, groomed and recruited over time by traffickers. They are usually unaware of what is happening to them, and may think they are in a relationship with their trafficker or that they have done something wrong when in fact they are being exploited.
While trafficking can involve any type of labor, sex trafficking is the most common form of child trafficking. It is an international crime that affects countries across the world. It is a major contributor to global poverty, and robs governments of the taxes they pay for schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects.
There is a huge demand for cheap, malleable labor that can be easily manipulated and controlled by traffickers. It is categorized as one of the worst forms of child labour, under the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
It is estimated that 980,000 to 1,225,000 children are victims of sex and/or labor trafficking worldwide. This includes girls and boys who are forced to perform commercial sex or labor, or to engage in survival sex.
This can be a long and traumatic experience for children, leading to many physical and emotional problems. They can also develop a wide variety of psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
They may also have a lower education level and suffer from PTSD due to the conditions they were subjected to. They will often find it hard to talk about what is happening to them, and may not understand that what is happening is abuse.
Children are often abused by their parents or other family members before they become trafficked. They can also be sucked into the commercial sex trade by false adverts online or on social media.
How does child trafficking happen?
Children are targeted for a variety of reasons. This includes poverty and war but can also happen because of a child’s social status or cultural beliefs.
The trafficking of children is a serious crime and it needs to be addressed. It is not only dangerous for children, but it can also cause a lot of suffering in their lives.
In the United States, we see many cases of child sex trafficking, where victims are paid to have sex with other people. The trade is so large that it affects many kids each year.
Victims are often forced to have sex with men who pay for the privilege. This can result in physical and sexual abuse, including sexually transmitted diseases.
Survivors of trafficking may have mental health issues, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. This can lead to suicidal tendencies. They are also at a higher risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and gonorrhea.
Child traffickers use social media and other forms of media to target their victims. These children are vulnerable to being deceived and lured by strangers who promise them things they cannot have – money, food, love or friendship.
The traffickers then take control of the child and begin to prey on their vulnerabilities. This can include threats, drugs or alcohol, blackmail and demands for sex, labor or forced criminality as payment.
They may isolate their victims from friends and family to prevent them from reporting what is happening. They may not have adequate food or water, which can affect their growth and development.
It is important that victims are given a voice, and the chance to tell their story. The best way to do this is by seeking assistance from a child protection agency.
The best thing we can do is to help children understand that what they are going through is wrong. This is a difficult task, especially for young people who are afraid to speak up.
What are the most common forms of child trafficking?
Child trafficking occurs when a person, usually a child, is bought or sold for the purpose of exploiting them. This includes sexual exploitation, forced labor and domestic slavery.
Oftentimes, child trafficking is carried out by criminals and gangs who are looking to make money. They are known as “traffickers” because they are selling people for a profit, typically using force, fraud or coercion to make their victims engage in sex trafficking or labor trafficking.
One of the most common forms of child trafficking is commercial sex trafficking, whereby women and girls are used for sexual purposes, such as prostitution or commercial images. This is a worldwide problem, and it happens even in the District of Columbia.
In most cases, these victims are manipulated into being trafficked by their families, friends or online acquaintances. They are lured into the trafficking ring by food, clothing, attention and friendship. This is called “pimping”* (Clause & Lawler, 2013).
Another form of child trafficking is domestic sex trafficking, whereby a pimp will manipulate a victim into being dependent on sex for survival and to have a place to live. This is also referred to as “grooming”* and can be done in two ways: finesse pimping, which uses kindness and psychological games to attract the young vulnerable victim, and guerilla pimping, which involves the use of violence and intimidation to drive a victim into submission.
Many victims of child sex trafficking become so hardened and dependent on the trafficker’s system that they cannot break free from their captors. This can lead to physical and mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Children are robbed of their childhoods when they are trafficked, and that can impact their development. The trauma they experience can cause them to have difficulties in school, and may affect their relationships with adults.
When we understand why child trafficking occurs, it is easier to help those who are at risk. This can include educating the public, raising awareness and helping law enforcement to stop this crime before it starts. It is also important to protect the children in your life and teach them about how to identify the warning signs of human trafficking.
What are the signs of child trafficking?
The signs of child trafficking may seem vague, but recognizing them can help prevent children from becoming victimized. It also may give you a chance to rescue them before they are further exploited.
Sex traffickers prey on vulnerable young people, usually girls and boys, who have run away from home. They lure them with promises of protection, love, adventure or even employment. They might approach victims at clubs and bars, schools, malls or metro stations.
Human trafficking is a global crime that affects all nationalities, ages, ethnic groups and genders. Those at risk include those with no legal status, are homeless or poor, live in dangerous neighborhoods, face domestic violence, are abused or addicted to drugs, have mental disabilities, are victims of trauma or lack access to health care.
In many cases, those who become victimized do not recognize they are being exploited. They may be fearful of speaking out or may not have the money to escape their situation.
Victims can be found in a variety of places, including hotels and motels, massage parlors, strip clubs, brothels, or hidden apartments. They might also have tattoos or piercings that could indicate criminal activity.
They might be wearing clothes that do not fit them and are not appropriate for the weather. They might be unable to afford proper clothing or they may have been physically or sexually abused.
Often, they are afraid to leave their traffickers because of fear or physical violence. They may not have the financial resources to do so and are often told they must pay to get back their documents or transportation to safety.
The traffickers also make a profit from the money a child “earns” through forced labor or other exploitation. Typically, they’ll explain that this money will help pay off a family or child’s debt.
The traffickers can be a parent, guardian, sibling, non-related caregiver or someone else who is in control of a child’s life. They can also be a person who is a friend or an employer.