Sale of children

Trafficking of children is a form of human trafficking and is defined as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, and/or receipt" of a child for the purpose of exploitation. Though statistics regarding the magnitude of child trafficking are difficult to obtain, the International Labour Organization estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year. The trafficking of children has been internationally recognized as a major human rights violation, one that exists in every region of the world. Yet, it is only within the past decade that the prevalence and ramifications of this practice have risen to international prominence, due to a dramatic increase in research and public action. A variety of potential solutions have accordingly been suggested and implemented, which can be categorized as four types of action: broad protection, prevention, law enforcement, and victim assistance. Major international documents regarding child trafficking include the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1999 I.L.O. Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, and the 2000 U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

Defining child trafficking

The first major international legislation concerning child trafficking is part of the 2000 United Nations Palermo protocols, titled the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. Article 3(a) of this document defines child trafficking as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring and/or receipt" of a child for the purpose of exploitation.[1] The definition for child trafficking given here applies only to cases of trafficking that are transnational and/or involve organized criminal groups; in spite of this, child trafficking is now typically recognized well outside of these parameters.[2] The International Labour Organization expands upon this definition by asserting that movement and exploitation are key aspects of child trafficking.[2] The definition of "child" used here is that listed in the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child which states, "a child means every human being below the age of 18 years, unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier."[3] The distinction outlined in this definition is important, because some countries have chosen to set the "age of majority" lower than 18, thus influencing exactly what legally constitutes child trafficking.[2]

Related legal instruments

Many international, regional, and national instruments have been implemented that relate to and affect the practice of child trafficking. These tools have been used to define what legally constitutes trafficking of children, such that appropriate legal action can be taken against those who engage in and promote this practice. These legal instruments are called by a variety of terms, including conventions, protocols, memorandums, joint actions, recommendations, and declarations. The most significant tools are listed below:[2]

International human rights instruments

These legal instruments were developed by the United Nations in an effort to outline the international human rights of human beings and, more specifically, children.

Labour and migration treaties

The trafficking of children often involves both labour and migration. As such, these international frameworks clarify instances in which these practices are illegal.

Trafficking-specific instruments

Regional instruments

A variety of regional instruments have also been developed to guide countries in decisions regarding child trafficking. Below are some of the major instruments, though many others exist:[2]

  • Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (Treaty series No. 197), 2005
  • Communication to the European Parliament and the Council COM(2005) 514 Final
  • Multilateral cooperation agreement to combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children, in West and Central Africa, 2006
  • Mekong subregional cooperation agreement to fight human trafficking (COMMIT), 2004

National law

National laws pertaining to child trafficking continue to develop worldwide, based on the international principles that have been established. Anti-trafficking legislation has been lauded as critical by the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking, because it ensures that traffickers and trafficking victims are treated accordingly: for example, "if migration laws are used to pursue traffickers, it is often the case that the victims too are prosecuted as illegal migrants, whereas if there is a specific category of 'trafficker' and 'trafficked person,' then it is more likely that the victim will be treated as such."[2] The existence of national laws regarding child trafficking also enables trafficking victims and/or their families to take appropriate civil action.[2]

Types of child trafficking

In not all cases is the intended or actual after-sale use of the child known. In ancient Rome, according to Keith Bradley, Augustine wrote that "there were indigent parents selling their children because they needed the cash."[12]

Forced labour

Forced labour is a form of child trafficking. In fact, the end goal of child trafficking is often forced labour.[2] Forced child labour refers specifically to children used for labour who are under the stipulated minimum age, usually 14 at the lowest.[5] UNICEF estimates that, in 2011, 150 million children aged 5–14 in developing countries were involved in child labour.[13] Within this number, the International Labour Organization reports that most child laborers - 60% - work in agriculture.[14] However, the International Labour Organization also estimates that 115 million children are engaged in hazardous work, such as the sex or drug trade.[14] Overall, child labor can take many forms, and includes domestic servitude, exploitation in agriculture, service, and manufacturing industries, sexual exploitation, use of children in the armed forces and drug trades, and child begging.[2] In terms of global trends, the International Labour Organization estimates that in 2004–2008, there was a 3% reduction in the incidence of child labor; this stands in contrast to a previous I.L.O report which found that in 2000–2004, there was a 10% reduction in child labor.[14] Thus, the International Labour Organization contends that, globally, child labour is slowly declining. Exempt from this statistic is sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of child laborers has remained relatively constant: 1 in 4 children aged 5–17 work in this region.[14] Another major global trend concerns the number of child laborers in the 15-17 age group: in the past five years, a 20% increase in the number of these child laborers has been reported.[14]

Sexual exploitation

The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography is a protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, formally adopted by the United Nations in 2000.[15] Essentially, this protocol formally requires states to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography.[15] According to the International Labour Organization, sexual exploitation of children includes all of the following practices and activities:[16]

  • "The use of girls and boys in sexual activities remunerated in cash or in kind (commonly known as child prostitution) in the streets or indoors, in such places as brothels, discotheques, massage parlours, bars, hotels, restaurants, etc."
  • "The trafficking of girls and boys and adolescents for the sex trade"
  • "Child sex tourism"
  • "The production, promotion and distribution of pornography involving children"
  • "The use of children in sex shows (public or private)"

Though measuring the extent of this practice is difficult due to its criminal and covert nature, the International Labour Organization estimates that there are as many as 1.8 million children sexually trafficked worldwide, while UNICEF's 2006 State of the World's Children Report reports this number to be 2 million.[17][18] The International Labor Organization has found that girls involved in other forms of child labour - such as domestic service or street vending - are at the highest risk of being pulled into commercial child sex trafficking.[17] A variety of sources, including the I.L.O, and scholars Erin Kunze and D.M. Hughes, also contend that the increased use and availability of the Internet has served as a major resource for traffickers, ultimately increasing the incidence of child sex trafficking.[17][19][20] In fact, in 2009, Illinois Sheriff Thomas J. Dart sued the owners of Craigslist, a popular online classifieds website, for its "allowance" and "facilitation" of prostitution, particularly in children.[21][22] In response to public and legal pressure, Craigslist has since blocked all access to its "Adult Services" section.[23]

Children in armed forces

The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict is a protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, formally adopted by the United Nations in 2000.[24] Essentially, the protocol states that while volunteers below the age of 18 can voluntarily join the armed forces, they cannot be conscripted. As the Protocol reads, "State parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that member of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities."[24] Despite this, the International Labour Organization estimates that "tens of thousands" of girls and boys are currently forcibly enlisted in the armed forces in at least 17 countries around the world.[25] Children conscripted into the armed forces can then be used in three distinct ways:[26][27]

  • Direct roles in hostilities (combat roles)
  • Supporting roles (such as messengers or spies)
  • For political advantage (such as for propaganda purposes)

Recent research conducted by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers has also noted that girl soldiers must be uniquely recognized, in that they are especially vulnerable to acts of sexual violence.[27] The incidence of child soldiers has become especially relevant in popular culture following the Kony 2012 movement, which aims to arrest Joseph Kony, a Ugandan war criminal who is responsible for the trafficking of thousands of child soldiers and sex slaves.[28]

Children in drug trades

Children are also used in drug trades in all regions of the world.[2] Specifically, children are often trafficked into exploitation as either drug couriers or dealers, and then 'paid' in drugs, such that they become addicted and further entrapped.[2] Due to the illicit nature of drug trafficking, children who are apprehended are often treated as criminals, when in reality they are often the ones in need of legal assistance.[2] While comprehensive worldwide statistics regarding the prevalence of this practice are unknown, several useful regional studies have been conducted. For example, the I.L.O has recently investigated the use of Afghan children in the heroin trade and child involvement in the drug trades of Brazil.[29][30] Scholar Luke Dowdney specifically studied children in the drug trade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; he found that children involved in the drug trades are at significantly higher risk of engaging in violence, particularly murder.[31]

Child begging

Forced child begging is a type of begging in which boys and girls under the age of eighteen are forced to beg through psychological and physical coercion.[32] Begging is defined by the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review as "the activity of asking for money as charity on the street."[33] There is evidence to suggest that forced begging is one industry that children are trafficked into, with a recent UNICEF study reporting that thirteen percent of trafficking victims in South Eastern Europe have been trafficked for the purpose of forced begging.[33] The United Nations protocol affirms that "the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered 'trafficking in persons' even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article."[33] With this definition the transportation of a child to an urban center for the purposes of begging constitutes trafficking regardless of whether this process was enforced by a third party or family member.[32] The severity of this form of trafficking is starting to gain global recognition, with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the European Union, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations, among others, beginning to emphasize its pertinence.[33] The European Union's Brussels Declaration on Preventing and Combating Trafficking includes child begging as one form of trafficking, stating "trafficking in human beings is an abhorrent and worrying phenomenon involving coercive sexual exploitation, labor exploitation in conditions akin to slavery, exploitation in begging and juvenile delinquency as well as domestic servitude."[34] This issue is especially difficult to regulate given that forced begging is often imposed by family members, with parental power leveraged over a child to ensure that begging is carried out.[33]


By definition child begging occurs in persons younger than eighteen, though forced begging has been found by UNICEF to exist among children as young as the age of two.[32] Incidences of this practice have been recorded by the World Bank in South and Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and West Africa.[35]

Most research, such as studies done by UNICEF, suggests that boys are much more likely than girls to be trafficked for the purposes of begging; experts presume this is because there is a greater female presence in trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.[36] In Albania, where forced begging is a common practice, seventy percent of victims are male.[33]

While concrete figures are difficult to determine, the International Labor Organization (ILO) recently reported that there are at least 600,000 children involved in forced begging.[37] The problem may be much more extensive, however, with China's Ministry of Civil Affairs reporting that as many as 1.5 million children are forced into begging.[38] Additionally, a recent study done in Senegal by Human Rights Watch projected that a minimum of 50,000 children within the country and neighboring nations have been trafficked for the purposes of begging.[39] Begging is often the primary source of income for street children in a number of countries, with a current study conducted by UNICEF finding that 45.7% of children who work on the streets of Zimbabwe engaged in begging, though there is no way of knowing whether it was through forced means.[40]

Gang networks involving forced begging have been found to occur in populations of 500 or greater.[41]


Economic factors

Forced begging is a profitable practice in which exploiters are motivated by economic incentives. The business structures of major rings of children trafficked for the purpose of begging have been examined as comparable to a medium-size business enterprise.[33] In the most severe cases networks of children forced to beg may generate $30–40,000 USD for the profiteer.[42] Though family networks are not nearly as extensive, a study conducted in Albania showed that a family with multiple children begging can earn up to fifteen euros a day, an amount greater than the average national teacher salary.[33] Anti-Slavery International asserts that because this income is relatively high many families believe it is the best option available given the lack of existing capabilities. Capability deprivation, meaning the routine absence of adequate resources that serve in facilitating opportunities, may account for cross-generational begging practices within families.[43] UNICEF studies have found that begging is especially prevalent among families in which parents are incapacitated in some way, leading children to be the sole providers.[40]

Political factors

According to the World Bank forced begging is most commonly found in the Middle East and countries of West Africa, where laws prohibiting begging are scarce and heavy regulation of trafficking absent.[35] In Zimbabwe, where child begging is especially prominent, the United Nations has indicated many contradictions between the Labour Act of Zimbabwe and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.[40] Many nations, such as Indonesia, have laws against begging on the books, but the repercussions for such entail temporary detainment and eventual release back onto the streets, which does little to combat the issue.[44]

Cultural factors

There are several cultural factors that support begging. In Europe begging is found in a number of minority cultures, especially popular within Roma and nomadic communities.[33] In Turkey familial networks of beggars have been documented across three generations, making it deeply ingrained within their survival schemas.[45] It is important to note that while these may be culturally rooted practices, juvenile begging by way of familial pressure still falls under the realm of forced begging.[33] The transport of children, even one's own, for the purposes of exploitation through begging is a form of trafficking outlined by the United Nations.[33]

Another cultural practice is the resolution of familial debts through the kidnapping and exploitation of one of their children.[46]

General abuses

UNICEF has found that children who are forced to beg by third parties are often removed from their families, surrender the majority of their income to their exploiter, endure unsafe work and living conditions, and are at times maimed to increase profits.[32][36] The process of maiming, popularized by the film Slumdog Millionaire, is common given that according to the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review children with apparent special needs often make upwards of three times as much as other children who beg.[33] In addition to inflictions such as blindness and loss of limbs, other physical abuses for the purposes of heightening profits include pouring chili pepper on a child's tongue to give the appearance of impeded speech, the use of opium to elicit cries, and administering forced injections of drugs that will increase a child's energy and alertness.[32] Testimonies against trafficking ring gang leaders have discussed the detainment of individuals in small cells devoid of food, water, and light to make victims weak and feeble, and thus more likely to elicit donations.[41]

The conditions in which begging takes place commonly expose children to further physical and verbal abuse, including sexual victimization and police brutality.[32] Research completed by Human Rights Watch revealed that when begging hours are completed for the day children often do not have proper shelter, adequate food, or access to healthcare where they reside.[47] Furthermore, many of the gangs which run networks of forced begging have heavy drug involvement, thus the children under their control are often turned into drug addicts in order for them to become further reliant on their exploiters.[32]

Long-term implications

Studies have shown that children forced into begging primarily receive little to no education, with upwards of sixteen hours a day dedicated to time on the streets.[33] With education being a leading method in escaping poverty child beggars have been shown to engage in a cyclical process of continuing this practice cross-generationally.[32] Interviews conducted by UNICEF show that children who beg have little hope for the future and do not believe their circumstances will improve.[40] Children who work on the streets typically have little or no knowledge of their rights, leaving them especially susceptible to exploitation both as juveniles and later as adults.[40] Children who beg have also been found by UNICEF to have much higher instances of HIV-infection due to lack of awareness and supervision on the streets.[40]


International action

A victim-centered human rights approach to combating trafficking has been internationally renowned as the best possible strategy when addressing this issue, with recourse focusing on punishing the exploiter and rehabilitating the child.[33] Some countries who emphasize this method include the United States, with the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 affirming "victims of severe forms of trafficking should not be inappropriately incarcerated, fined, or otherwise penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked."[48]

Other supported methods, such as those outlined by the Buffalo Human Rights Law Review, include relying on three Ps: protection, prosecution, and prevention.[33] Protection starts with enforcing strict measures on the matters of both trafficking and begging. For many nations the first step is the criminalization of begging and trafficking.[45] Prosecution should be instituted in the form of greater legal ramifications for traffickers, with punishment focused on the exploiter rather than the exploited.[48] This becomes difficult with respect to victims of familial trafficking, considering this would require changes in care placement and strict monitoring of each displaced child's welfare.[32] Many organizations affirm that prevention begins with discouraging donations and improving services so that children, and families as a whole, have greater capabilities.[47] Though well intentioned, by giving child beggars money individuals only make this practice more profitable and soon these funds find their way into the hands of the child's abuser.[47]

Government response

In Senegal, where the abuses against talibes are extensive, there have been several initiatives with the help of the World Bank to put an end this exploitation. First, there is intervention on a community level with education on the validity of some of these Quranic institutions provided to rural villages that typically send their children there. This is supplemented by improved regulation of schools within the nation to ensure that they remain places of education, followed by a greater enforcement of preexisting laws banning trafficking and exploitative begging. Finally, rehabilitation services have been provided with the help of CSOs to recovered children to provide them with the capabilities they have been denied.[35]

In Zimbabwe policy has adapted to ensure the safety of all persons under the age of sixteen with the Children's Protection and Adoption Act, however, the government admits that a lack of resources and capital play a critical role in inadequate enforcement.[40]

In Bangladesh, where there are an estimated 700,000 beggars, a law passed in 2009 banning the practice, though officials report some trouble with enforcement.[41]

In China, the Ministry of Public Security has established a department that solely focuses on child trafficking. Recently the department has instituted a hotline where the public dials 110 to report suspected incidences of forced begging, which law enforcement officials are expected to investigate further. The police are trained to take the children into custody if a blood relationship with their guardian cannot be established, and educate parents on the illegality and dangers of begging if they are those responsible for the child's action. This policy instituted in April 2009 has since led to the recovery of 9,300 children.[38]

NGO initiatives

Many NGOs have initiated movements focusing on informing the public on the dangers of donations. As recently reported by UNICEF "certain behaviors, such as giving money to child beggars can also indirectly motivate traffickers and controller to demand children."[36] The Mirror Foundation's Stop Child Begging Project of Thailand is one such organization that emphasizes eliminating the demand. Their initiatives are focused on educating passersby on the forced begging of trafficked Cambodians within their country to decrease the likelihood of donations.[49]

Other methods

In China, where the kidnapping and forced begging of children has been routinely documented, a multi-media movement has begun.[38] Here, blogs are utilized to publicize over 3,000 photos of children whose families believe have been abducted for the purpose of begging, with hundreds of thousands of followers who remain on the look out for these children in major urban centers. This campaign has enabled at least six children to be recovered and reunited with their families.[38]

In instances where begging is religiously sanctioned it has been suggested by USAid that religious leaders should outwardly condemn this practice. For talibes religious leaders have been asked to take a stance against begging using passages sited in the Quran, such as "Except paradise, you should not beg anything for the sake of Allah" (8:23), which would help strip the practice of its religious foundation.[50]

Child exchange

In China, in response to adult starvation, some children were exchanged, killed, and eaten. According to Robyn Meredith, "peasants [in the People's Republic of China (possibly in ca. 1958)] turned into skeletons. The nation's farmers, including the residents of Xiaogang, .... [among some] starving families[,] resorted to a practice called yi zi er shi [meaning "exchanging children to eat"]:... they traded a child for a neighbor's child, then killed and ate the skinny youngster, with the sickening knowledge that their neighbors were devouring their own."[51]

The practice is also known as "re-homing"[52] or "adoption from disruption".[53]


In general, child trafficking takes place in three stages: recruitment, movement, and exploitation.[2][11] Recruitment occurs when a child is approached by a recruiter, or in some cases, directly approaches a recruiter themselves.[2] Recruitment is initiated in many different ways: adolescents may be under pressure to contribute to their families, children may be kidnapped or abducted into trafficking, or families may be trafficked together.[2] Then, movement will occur - locally, regionally, and/or internationally - through a variety of transportation types, including by car, train, boat, or foot.[2] Ultimately, the final goal of child trafficking is exploitation, whereby traffickers use the services of children to garner illegal profit.[2] Exploitation can take place in a variety of forms, including forced labor, sexual exploitation, and child begging, among other practices.

Supply and demand framework

Child trafficking is often conceptualized using the economic model of supply and demand.[11][54] Specifically, those who are trafficked constitute the "supply," while the traffickers, and all those who profit from the exploitation, provide the "demand."[2] Two types of demand are defined: consumer demand and derived demand. Consumer demand is generated by people who actively or passively buy the products or services of trafficked labor.[2] An example of this would be a tourist purchasing a t-shirt that has been made by a trafficked child. Derived demand, on the other hand, is generated by people who directly profit from the practice of trafficking, such as pimps or corrupt factory owners.[2] Scholar Kevin Bales has extensively studied the application of this economic framework to instances of human trafficking; he contends that it is central to an accurate understanding of how trafficking is initiated and sustained.[55] Bales, along with scholars Elizabeth M. Wheaton, Edward J. Schauer, and Thomas V. Galli, have asserted that national governments should more actively implement policies that reduce both types of demand, thus working towards the elimination of trafficking.[56][57]

Social mechanisms

Various international organizations, including the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking have linked child trafficking to poverty: Living in poverty has been found to increase children's vulnerability to trafficking.[2][58][59] However, poverty is only one of many social "risk factors" that can lead to trafficking. As UNICEF and the World Bank note, "Often children experience several risk factors at the same time, and one of them may act as a trigger that sets the trafficking event in motion. This is sometimes called 'poverty plus,' a situation in which poverty does not by itself lead to a person being trafficked, but where a 'plus' factor such as illness combines with poverty to increase vulnerability."[2][60] UNICEF, UN.GIFT and several scholars, including Una Murray and Mike Dottridge, also contend that an accurate understanding of child trafficking must incorporate an analysis of gender inequality.[2][61][62] Specifically, in many countries, girls are at a higher risk of being trafficked, particularly into sexual exploitation.[2][61] In addition, these international agencies and scholars contend that giving women and men an equal voice in anti-trafficking policy is critical to reducing the incidence of child trafficking.[61][62]


It is difficult to obtain reliable estimates concerning the number of children trafficked each year, primarily due to the covert and criminal nature of this practice.[2][59] It often takes years to gather and compile estimates regarding child trafficking and, as a result, data can seem both inadequate and outdated.[2] This process of gathering data is only complicated by the fact that very few countries publish national estimates of child trafficking.[2] As a result, the available statistics are widely thought to underestimate the actual scope of the problem.[2]


Trafficking of children has been documented in every region of the world.[1][63] The most reliable figure regarding the prevalence of this practice is provided by the International Labour Organization, which estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year; this estimate includes cross-border and internal trafficking.[64]


Regionally, the International Labour Organization has provided the following estimates for trafficking of children by region per year:[64]

  • Asia/Pacific: 250,000 children
  • Latin America & the Caribbean: 550,000 children
  • Africa: 200,000 children
  • Transition economies: 200,000 children
  • Developed/industrialized economies: n/a

As the numbers above indicate, child trafficking occurs the most frequently in Latin America and the Caribbean. Child trafficking is also the most prevalent in developing countries, though it does occur in developed and industrialized economies as well.[2][56] Notably, the United States Department of State publishes an annual "Trafficking in Persons" report which provides ample data regarding the prevalence of human and child trafficking in the majority of countries.[56]


According to anthropologist Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, in the late 17th and 18th centuries, in Britain, parents in poverty "sold their children (actually, their children's services, but to all intents and purposes their persons as well)".[65] Sale motivations were more economic than for wife sales[66] and prices, drawing from limited data, "appear to have been fairly high."[67] Many of the boys sold were climbing boys for chimney sweeps until they were no longer small enough.[68] Prostitution was another reason for selling a child, usually a girl.[69] One sale was of a niece; another was the sale by a man of the daughter of a woman domestic partner who also ran his business.[69] Some children were stolen and then sold.[70] Purchasing was apparently also done through "baby-farming operations."[71]


Children and families

According to UN.GIFT, child trafficking has the most significant impact on trafficked children and their families.[2][72] First, trafficking can result in the death or permanent injury of the trafficked child.[2] This can stem from a dangerous "movement" stage of trafficking or from specific aspects of the "exploitation" stage, such as hazardous working conditions. Moreover, trafficked children are often denied access to healthcare, effectively increasing their chances of serious injury and death.[2] Trafficked children are also often subject to domestic violence; they may be beaten or starved in order to ensure obedience.[2] In addition, these children frequently encounter substance abuse; they may be given drugs as "payment" or to ensure that they become addicted and thus dependent on their trafficker(s).[2] As opposed to many other forms of crime, the trauma experienced by children who are trafficked is often prolonged and repeated, leading to severe psychological impacts.[72] UN.GIFT reports that trafficked children often suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among other conditions.[72]

Effects on families are also severe. Some families believe that sending or allowing their children to relocate in order to find work will bring in additional income, while in reality many families will never see their trafficked children again.[2] In addition, UN.GIFT has found that certain forms of trafficking, particularly sexual exploitation in girls, bring "shame" to families.[72] Thus, in certain cases, children who are able to escape trafficking may return to their families only to find that they are rejected and ostracized.[72]


Child trafficking has also been shown to have a major effect on communities. If multiple children in a community are trafficked, it can result in the entire community being corrupted, and thus devastated, by trafficking.[2] Social development efforts are hindered, as trafficked children's educations are cut short.[2] As a result of this lack of education, children who escape trafficking may be less able to secure employment later in life.[2] In addition, trafficked girls face special obstacles, in that their prospects for marriage might be diminished if the community becomes aware that they have been trafficked, particularly into sexual exploitation.[2]


On a national level, economic development is severely hindered by the lack of education of trafficked children; this results in a major loss of potentially productive future workers.[2][72] Children who are able to successfully return to their families often pose a significant financial burden, due to their lack of education, and the illnesses and injuries they may have incurred during trafficking work.[2] There are major costs associated with the rehabilitation of these trafficked children, so that they are able to successfully participate in their communities.[2] Furthermore, the persistence of child trafficking indicates the presence of sustained criminal activity and criminal networks, which, in most cases, are also associated with drugs and violence.[72] As a result, UN.GIFT has cited child trafficking as a significant indicator of national and global security threats.[72]

Proposed solutions

Solutions to child trafficking, or "anti-trafficking actions", can be roughly classified into four categories:[73]

  • Broad protection: "To prevent children and former victims from being (re)trafficked"
  • Prevention: "Of the crime of child trafficking and the exploitation that is its end result"
  • Law enforcement: "In particular within a labour context and relating to labour laws and regulations"
  • Protection: "all steps towards the redressal of their grievance, rehabilitation and helping to establish her/him."[74]

Broad protection actions are geared towards children who could potentially be trafficked, and include raising awareness about child trafficking, particularly in vulnerable communities.[73] This type of outreach also includes policies geared towards improving the economic statuses of vulnerable families, so that reasonable alternatives are available to them, other than sending their children to work.[73] Examples of this include increasing employment opportunities for adults and conditional cash transfer programs. Another major broad protection program that has been readily endorsed by UN.GIFT, the I.L.O, and UNICEF involves facilitating gender equality, specifically by enhancing both boys' and girls' access to affordable, quality education.[72][73][75] Another way to raise awareness for child trafficking is by communities from all over the world dedicating a week to this situation.awarenessCommunity groups along with police enforcements are collabroating together to organize events as well as in depht information secessions and support groups for the victims. In the events held by communities there can be films, guest speakers, booths, and many more things that can help people understand the seriousness of this issue. The ICE (Human Trafficking) has a help line for viticms as well as conducts awareness in the U.S.A communities through the ICE In Plain Sight Campaign.

Preventative actions are more focused on addressing the actual practice of child trafficking, specifically by implementing legal frameworks that are aimed to both deter and prosecute traffickers.[11][73] This involves the adoption and implementation of the International Labour Organization's international labour standards, as well as the development of safe and legal migration practices.[73]

Law enforcement refers to the actual prosecution of traffickers; UNICEF maintains that successful prosecution of child traffickers is the surest way to send a message that child trafficking will not be tolerated.[73] Traffickers can be "caught" at any one of the three steps of trafficking: recruitment, movement, and/or exploitation; anti-trafficking laws as well as child labour laws must then be appropriately enforced and having them properly implemnated. The development of grassroots "surveillance" systems has also been suggested by UNICEF which would enable communities to immediately report signs of child trafficking to legal authorities.[73]

Protection begins first with victim identification; child trafficking laws must specifically and appropriately define what constitutes a "trafficking victim."[73] Legal processes must then be in place for removing children from trafficking situations, and returning them either to their families or other appropriate settings.[73] Victims should also be provided with individualized and supportive physical and psy psychological chological rehabilitation in order to establish him or her self aging. For this recuperate can take length of time but, with the individual having the correct support they can achieve to have a functional life. [73] Finally, steps should be taken to avoid "double victimization" - in other words, to ensure that formerly trafficked children are treated as victims, and not as criminals.[73] An example of "double victimization" would be a child who was illegally trafficked into sexual exploitation in the United States, and then, once free from trafficking, is prosecuted for being an illegal migrant.

Relevant organizations

Many organizations have proposed potential solutions to child trafficking. These organizations continue to conduct research concerning this practice and policies that can be implemented to work towards its eradication. The most internationally recognized of these organizations include:

Popular culture

  • A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift, was ironic fiction proposing the selling of children to save Ireland from starvation;[83] the proposal was probably not intended to be literal


See also

Further reading

  • Several cases of sale or attempted sale described in what is largely a primary source: Grennan, Conor, Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal (N.Y.: William Morrow, 1st ed. 2010 (ISBN 978-0-06-193005-8)), esp. pp. 39–41 (esp. p. 40), 77, 134, 227–228, 231, & 249–257 (author graduate of Univ. of Virginia & NYU Stern Sch. of Bus., volunteer Little Princes Children's Home, Godawari, Nepal (2004), founder Next Generation Nepal)


External links

  • UNICEF: Child protection from violence, exploitation, and abuse
  • Extensive searchable library of scholarly resources
  • International Framework for Action - To Implement the Trafficking in Persons Protocol
  • Operational Indicators of Trafficking in Human Beings 2009
  • Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking
  • Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation – Textbook 1: Understanding Child Trafficking
  • Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation - Textbook 2: Action against Child Trafficking at Policy and Outreach Levels
  • Training Manual to Fight Child Trafficking in Children for Labour, Sexual and Other Forms of Exploitation – Textbook 3: Matters of Process
  • United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking
  • United States Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report - 2011
  • Child Trafficking in Germany, German Federal Office of Statistics 1995 - 2012

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.