How can we protect children from Human Trafficking?
When you think of human trafficking, pictures of street-hardened, empty-eyed young women probably come to mind, but the sad reality is that, of the estimated 20-35 million victims of human trafficking in the world today, about half are under the age of 16. But among sex workers in Thailand, that percentage zooms to around 80%—most of whom come from neighboring Myanmar and Cambodia. Children of all ages—including toddlers—are trafficked for sex and pornography, while older children are forced to perform dangerous factory labor and work on large fishing boats that rarely enter port. India—where a water buffalo used to work a farm costs around $350, but a child can be purchased for less than $20—is just one place where children are often given little value. There are millions more “invisible” children around the world.
And it’s no wonder: it’s often the poorest families that have the most children, making it extremely challenging to properly care for all of them—and much easier to justify sacrificing the lives of some to traffickers in the desperate hope that the rest of the family might be better off economically (or at least have fewer mouths to feed).
Naturally, much of the focus of human trafficking is on those who have already become victims. Images of children abused by human traffickers sear our minds and grip our consciences—and so they should. These children have already been emotionally damaged, and many also carry physical scars from harsh treatment and abuse. We should do all we can to help these innocent victims.
It’s of crucial importance, then, that we should also do all we can to prevent other children from being trafficked—before the damage is done. But how can we protect children from human trafficking? What steps can we take to “traffick-proof” children before they become victims?
Here is a list of 8 ways we can help protect children from human trafficking:
- Educate parents and children in every nation about the realities of human trafficking, and the deceptive methods used to acquire victims;
- Provide children with an education (many families in Third World countries cannot afford school fees, and even in places where tuition is paid for by the government, families must still pay for books, supplies and uniforms—and sometimes additional fees demanded by teachers who cannot survive on the small salaries they receive);
- Petition government leaders (including the U.S. government, which plays a large role internationally in apprehending pedophiles, for example) to legislate laws to protect children and to better enforce existing laws;
- Raise the status of children in countries where they are valued mainly for their economic contributions to the family (this can be done by providing educational programs for young children, funding for education, including vocational and college scholarships, and educating adults through faith-based community centers that teach the intrinsic value of all people—especially children);
- Promote better economic conditions in poor rural villages (which, because of their deep poverty, provide a steady supply of victims to the worldwide human trafficking industry) through micro-credit, grants, vocational education, agricultural training, fair trade practices, etc.;
- Alert first-responders to natural or man-made disasters to the dangers of traffickers preying upon displaced children (human traffickers see such times of disruption as prime opportunities to “hunt” for children who have been separated from their parents by the chaos of the situation or by death; emergency responders are often very distracted by immediate needs, and can easily lose track of children in the midst of the upheaval);
- Reduce the number of children in orphanages by returning those who have living parents or relatives to homes that will provide safe, loving family environments for them; find suitable foster care for others; and refuse to perpetuate the industry via orphanage tourism dollars (it’s been proven that children who grow up in orphanages do not have their emotional needs sufficiently met, often are sexually abused by older boys or staff members, and normally are turned out to live on their own at 18 years of age—all of which makes orphanage-raised children much more vulnerable to becoming victims of human trafficking); and
- Involve children in faith-based programs that elevate their self-worth and provide hope for their futures (many children at risk for human trafficking live in Third World urban slums where adult care and supervision is non-existent and where many children live almost like animals on the streets).
What can I do to end Human Trafficking?
Here are 5 things you can do to fight human trafficking in your community: (1) Support trustworthy human trafficking organizations, like the Human Trafficking & Slavery Ministry of Heaven’s Family, that are effectively working to rescue victims and protect the most vulnerable, including at-risk children; (2) Become aware of how human traffickers work in your area, and be ready to call 911 or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if you see highly suspicious activity; (3) Educate yourself so that you can speak to those at community events, schools and warn your own children; (4) Take in a foster child or volunteer to help at-risk children at your church or other community center; and (5) Pray.
The size of the human trafficking problem is overwhelming, and often discourages us from taking action. But as individuals become informed, communicate the problem, and support organizations in the fight, change can happen. It happens one person at a time. So please help that ONE today. To find out more about how you can help, click here.
Sold like cattle, abused and forgotten— until now. Read Their Stories!
Imagine being held captive and made to endure unfathomable atrocities. Enslaved to others, you face a 99% likelihood of never being rescued. This is the horrific reality for an estimated 21 million children and adults around the world.