Child Victims of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. Victims are young children, teenagers, men and women. Victims of human trafficking are subjected to force, fraud, or coercion to compel them to engage in commercial sex or involuntary labor. What’s more, any child who has engaged in commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking.
Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders annually according to the U.S. government. More than half of these victims worldwide are children, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Child victims of trafficking:
- Considered persons under the age of 18
- Exploited for commercial sex, including prostitution, pornography and sex tourism
- Exploited for labor, including domestic servitude, migrant farming, landscaping and hotel or restaurant work
- Most frequently come from the Pacific Islands, the former Soviet Union, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and developing countries.
- Can be trafficked by close family members
The reasons for coming to the U.S. vary, but children may believe they are coming to the United States to be united with family, to work in a legitimate job or to attend school. Additionally, children may be subject to psychological intimidation or threats of physical harm to self or family members.
A Lasting Effect: Physical and Psychological Consequences of Trafficking
Child victims of human trafficking can face significant problems. Often physically and sexually abused, they have distinctive medical and psychological needs that must be addressed before advancing in the formative years of adulthood.
For child victims of exploitation, the destructive effects can create a number of long-term health problems including:
· Sleeping and eating disorders
· Sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, pelvic pain, rectal trauma and urinary difficulties from working in the sex industry
· Chronic back, hearing, cardiovascular or respiratory problems from endless days toiling in dangerous agriculture, sweatshop or construction conditions
· Fear and anxiety
· Depression, mood changes
· Guilt and shame
· Cultural shock from finding themselves in a strange country
· Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
· Traumatic Bonding with the Trafficker