A form of modern-day slavery
Accurate data can be difficult to obtain, but some things we know are:
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 20.9 million victims globally.
- Of those, 68% are in forced labor, 26% are children, and 55% are women and girls.
- Factors that can make young people vulnerable to becoming trafficked or becoming traffickers include poverty, family violence, exclusion, and migration.
- The drivers of human trafficking include poverty, social inequality and gender discrimination, inadequate education and opportunity, ethnic discrimination, and demand for cheap labor and cheap sex.
- The ILO estimates that human trafficking is a $150 billion industry.
Our Work in Primary Prevention
In 2015, after discovering that little was being done in the area of primary prevention—stopping the act of human trafficking before it happens—our Human Trafficking Task Force re-focused its efforts to address this gap. Visit the page for our former Human Trafficking Task Force to find out more about the Primary Prevention Framework and related contributions from the Global Alliance.
What can you do?
- Learn the indicators of human trafficking so you can help identify trafficking victims.
- Be a conscientious and informed consumer. Discover your slavery footprint.
- Volunteer and support anti-trafficking efforts in your community.
- Meet with and/or write to your local, state, and federal government representatives to let them know you care about combating child trafficking, and ask what they are doing to address it.
Research on Child Trafficking in AJO
The objective of this study was to analytically identify risk profiles for juvenile human trafficking (JHT) based on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and health risk behaviors. First, the study examined which types of ACEs and health risk behaviors were more prevalent among trafficked adolescents using a sample of 913 male and female juvenile-justice-involved adolescents with suspected or verified JHT abuse reports documented between 2009 and 2015 and a comparison group (matched by age, gender, race, ethnicity, and location). Second, latent class analysis was used to identify profiles of risk for JHT. Finally, associations between JHT risk profiles and demographic characteristics provided a more comprehensive depiction of various types of trafficked adolescents. Study findings indicate that adolescents with JHT abuse reports were more likely to report child maltreatment and internalizing health risk behaviors reflective of self-harm and attempts to cope with trauma. Trafficked youth were less likely to report externalizing health risk behaviors related to violence or harming others. Six distinctive profiles of risk for JHT were identified. Three JHT risk profiles were characterized by extensive child maltreatment and health risk behaviors and were differentiated by placement in foster care and substance use. Three JHT risk profiles were characterized by less extensive histories of child maltreatment and were differentiated by drug use. In conclusion, these findings highlight that the current depictions of adolescent victims of human trafficking are too narrow and may lead to critical health care and service provision disparities for many trafficked adolescents.
Reid, J. A., Baglivio, M. T., Piquero, A. R., Greenwald, M. A., & Epps, N. (2019). No youth left behind to human trafficking: Exploring profiles of risk. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 89(6), 704–715.
There has been a plethora of outcomes associated with child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation; however little attention has been paid to how outcomes are addressed for children who are placed into residential aftercare recovery programs following their identification as victims. Field-based qualitative research was undertaken in South and Southeast Asia, and involved interviews with 213 representatives from U.N. and governmental agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and residential aftercare recovery programs. Findings highlight the mental health needs of child victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, describe the availability and quality of mental health services and supports in aftercare programs to address prevailing needs and repair the psychological damage caused by trafficking, and report on lessons learned pertaining to elements of good practice and related challenges associated with the availability and quality of mental health services and supports. It concludes by highlighting the implications of the findings for mental health policy and practice and offers suggestions for further research.
Rafferty, Yvonne. (2018). Mental health services as a vital component of psychosocial recovery for victims of child trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(3), 249-260
This is the first study to explore whether mandated reporters who work with adolescent females, ages 10 to 17, recognize domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) and associated risk factors. Because mandated reporters are required by law to report child abuse, neglect, and child exploitation, lack of specific DMST training or not believing DMST exists in communities continues to place young females at risk for revictimization. Results indicate that 60% of mandated reporters in the sample (N = 577) had no specific training on DMST. Furthermore, almost 25% of respondents did not believe DMST existed in their communities. Implications for practice are discussed.
Hartinger-Saunders, R.M., Trouteaud, A.R., Matos Johnson, J. (2017). Mandated reporters’ perceptions of and encounters with domestic minor sex trafficking of adolescent females in the United States. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(3), 195-205
In this article, the authors focus on the linkages between objectification and current societal manifestations of sexual violence toward women to make the case that everyday instances of objectification can provide the foundation for more extreme forms of violence. First, they formally introduce the notion of objectification and explain its origins and its consequences in those who perpetrate and those who experience it. Next, they use objectification as a lens through which to consider several related, but distinct, societal problems, including: sexual assault of college women, harassment of women in work settings, and sex trafficking of women in the United States and around the world. Finally, they offer potential solutions, which, if implemented at individual, organizational, and societal levels, could reduce violence against women in its many forms.
Gervais, S. J., & Eagan, S. (2017). Sexual objectification: The common thread connecting myriad forms of sexual violence against women. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 87(3), 226–232.
This qualitative study focuses on the mothering experiences of women from the former Soviet Union (FSU) who were sex‐trafficked to Israel. In‐depth interviews were conducted with 8 women who gave birth either in the FSU or in Israel. The women’s stories reflect 3 experiential spheres, those of “the good mother,” “the sacrificing mother,” and “the mother who wants for herself.” These mothering spheres were found to exist against the backdrop of a life between 2 countries, where the women’s mothering is split between “here” and “there.” Furthermore, it was found that the women’s sex‐trafficking experience continually threatened to invade the 3 mothering spheres and destabilize the balance among them. The splits and conflicts among the mothering spheres are examined from a gendered perspective with emphasis on mother–daughter relationships and on the social constructions of mothering and prostitution.
Peled, E. & Parker, A. (2013). The mothering experiences of sex-trafficked women: Between here and there. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 83(4), 576-587.
Child trafficking, including commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative criminal activities in the world. The global enslavement of children affects countless numbers of victims who are trafficked within their home countries or transported away from their homes and treated as commodities to be bought, sold, and resold for labor or sexual exploitation. All over the world, girls are particularly likely to be trafficked into the sex trade: Girls and women constitute 98% of those who are trafficked for CSE. Health and safety standards in exploitative settings are generally extremely low, and the degree of experienced violence has been linked with adverse physical, psychological, and social‐emotional development. The human‐rights‐based approach to child trafficking provides a comprehensive conceptual framework whereby victim‐focused and law enforcement responses can be developed, implemented, and evaluated. This article highlights promising policies and programs designed to prevent child trafficking and CSE by combating demand for sex with children, reducing supply, and strengthening communities. The literature reviewed includes academic publications as well as international and governmental and nongovernmental reports. Implications for social policy and future research are presented.
Rafferty, Y. (2013). Child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation: A review of promising prevention policies and programs. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 83(4), 559-575.