Child Abuse and Trafficking: The Modern Day Slavery of Children

Published November 27th, 2021 - 08:07 GMT
Child Abuse and Trafficking: The Modern Day Slavery of Children
The reality is that child trafficking can be prevented if enough resources and knowledge is put into fighting it. (shutterstock)

We were all once children, and it is not hard to agree that every child deserves to be loved, provided for and given a safe space to live and grow. However, for many children, that was and still is not the reality they live in. In fact, WHO reports that around 1 billion children between ages 2 and 17 have experienced some kind of abuse in the past year alone. And that number does not even include the unreported cases that can go unnoticed or are never spoken about. 

Child Abuse

Child abuse can be in the form of mental, physical, sexual or emotional abuse. While these different types of abuse might appear to be different, they are all inhuman acts that can result in deep distress, injuries and even, in some cases, death. On a personal level, what abuse does to a child is that it initially rips the child from their right to be just what they are: a child.

Children who are exposed to abuse can also end up becoming violent themselves and turn to substance abuse. Not only that, but the mental and emotional impact that abuse entails can be devastating and may result in mental illnesses, risky behavior or even an impaired and disoriented perception of life. But the impact of abuse goes far beyond just affecting the children themselves, because it can also result in major social issues, such as increased violence, inequality, disoriented definition of love, safety and relationships, as well as poverty. While many people might be aware of the disastrous outcomes of abuse, not many know how to cope with it, fight it or even prevent it.

The reality of the situation is that before people can understand how to fight abuse, and child abuse in particular, they should acknowledge the great responsibility that having children brings in the first place. What the world needs to understand is that children are not brought into this world to suffer and be abused, but instead they should be given their basic human rights and have the a healthy childhood.

The thing with child abuse is that it can occur everywhere, especially in a child’s house. And what was initially meant to be a place where kids can feel safe and loved becomes a child's worst nightmare. 

However, the issue with abuse extends far beyond the immediate violence done to the child in the moments they are abused, because in many cases, abusive content of children can be shared online. For instance, there has been an increase in the trade of child sexual abuse material over the past year. It is reported that The National Center For Missing & Exploited Children in the US reviews more than 480,769 images per week each year.

The issue with sexual abuse of children, and really child abuse as a whole, is one that requires a high level of urgency and should be addressed with the utmost importance. It is pivotal that online platforms become more proactive in order to not only take down any harmful content but also to work on preventing it from being shared in the first place. This is a hard conversation that has to be highlighted and spoken about loudly and clearly. 

Child Trafficking

The neglect, injustice and abuse that happens to kids does not stop just there, because the world can be a far uglier place than that. Victims of trafficking are either sold by family members, kidnapped or coaxed into thinking they will get a better life. According to the International Labor Organization, there were about 160 million child laborers aged between 2 and 17 in 2021 alone.

Around 25% of all human trafficking victims are in fact children, most of which are trafficked for forced labor. But trafficked children are not only forced to work for minimum wage and under hazardous conditions, because some also experience sexual exploitation, forced marriage, and slavery.

Globally, there are around 5 million sex trafficking victims, of which 1 million are children. Furthermore, it is reported that women and girls make up 99% of sex trafficking victims. The reason is that traffickers tend to approach socially and financially vulnerable women and girls with the idea that they can offer them a better life.

Let us take the famous master manipulator Jeffrey Epstein, who was a registered sex offender and was accused of sex trafficking when he started paying girls aged 14 to 18 to have sex and bring in their friends for the same thing. The thing about sex trafficking is that it can go on for years without being noticed, and this is largely due to the fact that not enough is done to raise awareness and educate people about it.

While sex trafficking can really happen to anyone, refugees are among the most vulnerable groups due to the difficult circumstances they have to endure. Traffickers prey on their hopes of having a better education and life so that they can more easily trick them in with all these false promises.

Unfortunately, girls are even more affected by trafficking than anyone else, and that is because of gender-inequality and gender-based violence. In fact, girls are more likely to be denied access to education or good opportunities simply because they are girls.

Save The Children even reports that 120 million girls experience sexual exploitation worldwide. Girls are twice more likely to become a trafficking victim and they are usually either trafficked for forced marriage or sexual slavery. It is also important to shed light on the fact that children living in conflict zones are more prone to trafficking and exploitation.

Therefore, the problem of child abuse and trafficking stems from more than just having criminals looking for money, because it also comes from conflict, government corruption and wars. 

Moving Forward

The first and direct impact of child abuse and trafficking is possibly the psychological distress it can cause. Whether it is PTSD, depression or any other mental illness, going back to living a normal life will be more challenging than ever for those kids.

In addition, kids who had to work under hazardous conditions might lose their chance of getting a real education and thus be trapped in poverty and the vicious cycle it entails. Not to mention the ripple effect that violence, abuse and trafficking can have on the world as a whole. Therefore, it is crucial that more is done to protect children and make this world a safer one for them and future generations. 

While we all might feel helpless sometimes and like our voice will not make a difference, this cannot be any further from the truth. Every voice, talk and donation can help save a child’s life. The least we can do is talk about it, raise awareness and report any incident we might come across or hear about.

Raising awareness is the most important and crucial step to shed light on the urgency of what children are facing. We owe it to them to work towards making this world safer and better. Talking is always the first step in making something seen and heard.

By talking and raising awareness, you are also educating people and even children about any red flags that can signal potential harm. The reality is that child trafficking can be prevented if enough resources and knowledge is put into fighting it. 

Talk, talk and talk about it. Educate others. Donate. Do not turn a blind eye. Do not wait to fight it, when we can do something to help prevent it from happening in the first place. 

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