Sadly, child trafficking is a major issue in the world today, but many of us don’t realize the true extent of the issue.
What makes this prevalent issue even worse is the difficulty in identifying the signs. Every single one of the child trafficking stories you might hear about are unique from start to finish.
In this article, you’ll learn what child trafficking is, the common signs to look out for, and who is most likely to be a victim of child trafficking.
What is Child Trafficking?
Child trafficking is a form of child abuse that occurs across the globe. Children can get trafficked to different areas within the same country or to a completely different country.
Trafficking describes when a child is coerced or forced to leave their home and they get transported to another place to be exploited or sold.
There are many reasons why child traffickers might steal one or more children, including:
- Sexual exploitation
- Physical abuse
- Forced marriage
- Slavery or forced labor in factories or on farms
- Benefit fraud
- Crimes, including begging and theft
- Drugs trafficking
A child may be trafficked for one or a combination of the above reasons.
A child trafficker often prays on young and vulnerable children. They will persuade the children to get into a vehicle that will take them somewhere far away from their homes.
Traffickers can also pretend that they are a member of society to gain the trust of families and children in the community. When the opportunity arises, they kidnap the children while their parents are out of sight.
Often, child traffickers ask families for money or important documentation for their child to work. Families are threatened and scared for the safety of their children, and most of them have no other choice but to comply in the hopes that their child will be freed.
Traffickers can work alone, in small groups, or large networks of criminals with worldwide operations.
The Impacts of Child Trafficking
Child trafficking has a huge impact on the lives of thousands of families. It doesn’t only affect the children themselves but also their families.
Children and teenagers who have been trafficked may have lasting physical and psychological trauma for the rest of their lives. Even if they did not fully understand what happened to them at the time, the scars can still form.
They can also feel guilty for what happened to them. This is a common feeling if the child was a little older when they were groomed as they feel like they should have known better.
As a child who has been previously exploited grows up, they may look back at what happened and start to feel responsible for their abuse. They think that they could have easily walked away from their abuser at the time.
Of course, the reality is very much the opposite. Children are not given a choice when it comes to child trafficking. Abusers know exactly how to exploit a child’s naivety to persuade them into a trap. Once a child enters the first stage in the child trafficking process, it’s almost impossible for them to get out of this situation.
Sometimes, children who have been groomed or exploited through child trafficking may believe that they are in a consenting relationship with their abuser. They might be tricked into thinking that this is what they truly want, in a similar way to Stockholm syndrome.
Children in trafficking circles often live in very poor conditions for long periods of time. Their basic needs are not met, they aren’t adequately fed or hydrated, and they have very little freedom. They may be left to work outside in freezing cold temperatures.
This can have long-lasting effects on a child’s physical and mental health, particularly if they are experiencing any type of abuse at the same time. Being away from their families and being placed in an unfamiliar environment only enhances these long-lasting effects.
If a child is taken at a young age, it’s unlikely that they will have access to education and this can seriously affect their cognitive development. They don’t have the opportunity to socialize with others their age, which often leads to poor social development.
Signs of Child Trafficking
Being able to recognize the signs of child trafficking could make the difference between a child being groomed or being saved. You can put a stop to things before it’s too late.
If a child is very young, they might have no idea that the adults who they’re speaking to have bad intentions. Even if they do partially understand that something is not right about the adults that are approaching them, they might be too scared or confused to speak out about it.
Here are some of the common signs of child trafficking.
- A child is spending a lot of time inside their house and they rarely go outdoors to play
- A child appears to be doing a lot of house chores and laborious work
- A child is living in low-standard accommodation
- A child appears to have bruises or signs of physical harm
- A child appears disheveled, paranoid, and anxious, and avoids eye contact when spoken to
- A child is living away from their family or doesn’t appear to have access to their parents or guardians
- A child does not attend school and is not registered with a local health practice
- A child is seen at inappropriate places, such as in factories or at brothels
- A child gives a fake story or a planned story when asked about what they’re doing or who they live with
It can be tricky to spot the signs of child trafficking when you don’t personally know the child. However, keeping a close eye out on the children within your community will make it easier to spot the worrying signs. If you do know the child personally, it may be easier to spot changes in their appearance or behavior.
If you notice any of these signs, you must inform the local authorities or child protection services.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Guest Author Bio
John Moran is an American who enjoys the fine art of living well. His interests include anything wine, food or nature related especially when enjoyed with friends and family.
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