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Ending child trafficking

Every child deserves a life free from exploitation.

What is child trafficking?

Across the globe, millions of people are victims of trafficking, but children are most vulnerable.

Child trafficking refers to an act in which children are coerced or taken away from the safety of their home for the purpose of exploitation. Children who are trafficked are often forced into dangerous work, robbing them of their childhood and dignity.

Trafficking children is a serious violation of their rights and is considered a form of child abuse. It is a global issue that affects millions of children around the world, but those from low-income countries are most vulnerable to being trafficked and exploited, particularly refugees.

World Vision works with communities to protect children from human trafficking. We focus on identifying signs that make children more vulnerable to harm, and we support families to tackle the root causes of child trafficking.

How we're ending child trafficking

With your support, World Vision protects children from the devastating effects of child trafficking. As a Christian charity, we work with communities to help families learn about child rights, generate a sustainable income and provide safe spaces for children.

You can protect children and end child trafficking today

Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, forcing children to drop out of school and increase their likelihood of living in poverty. Support World Vision to tackle the root causes and protect children from the risks of child trafficking.

Child trafficking facts

Child trafficking is a difficult crime to measure as it often takes place in secrecy, but here are some estimated statistics which are likely to underestimate the actual number of child trafficking victims, as many cases go unreported or undetected.

With your support, we work towards tackling the root causes of child trafficking. We advocate for children’s rights, support families financially and ensure that children are protected from harm.

Together, we can stop child trafficking

FAQs about child trafficking

  • The United Nations defines child trafficking as the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, or harbouring children and young people for the purpose of exploitation.

  • Child trafficking is a complex issue that is caused by a combination of factors. Poverty, lack of education or job opportunities, and cultural norms are some of the main factors that can make children vulnerable to traffickers.

    In addition, armed conflict and climate change can also increase the risk of child trafficking, especially when the events lead to displacement and separation from their parents. 

  • Children are trafficked for different reasons and purposes:

    • For hard labour - such as work in farms or factories.
    • For criminal activities like transporting drugs, stealing.
    • For forced marriage.
    • For sexual exploitation or prostitution.
    • For domestic servitude, typically working in a private family home for little to no pay.
    • Other forms can be removal and sale of organs, and selling of babies or small children.
  • Here are some of the signs child trafficking:

    • The child or family have been threatened by the people you are with and/or
    • The child has experienced been physically or sexually abused and/or
    • The child or family have been told they have a debt to pay and/or
    • The child is being forced to do something she/he doesn’t want to do
    • The child has to work for little or no pay
    • The child has been told not to speak to or to keep secrets from other people such as police officers and/or
    • The child’s movement or communication is controlled and/or
    • The child never or rarely leaves their accommodation for social reasons and/or
    • The child has or uses false identity or travel documents, or they have been taken from you.

    If you suspect anyone who may be trafficked, you should report it to the closest authorities: Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the police on 101. In an emergency always call 999.

    Source: World Vision and ECPAT UK 2021 Migration, child trafficking and your rights in the UK | ECPAT UK

  • Trafficking in persons (including of children) also happens in the UK. Most of those who are trafficked are from overseas, working in cannabis farms, agriculture, construction, prostitution, nail bars, and other service related work. Children are found working in all of these situations, as well as in sexual slavery.

    In 2022, the UK National Referral Mechanism reported receiving 16,938 referrals of potential victims of modern slavery: a term that includes any form of human trafficking, slavery or forced labour. This shows a 33% increase in the UK compared to the year before.

  • It is difficult to determine the number of children who are trafficked given the covert nature and the movement of persons who are trafficked.

    The latest global estimates indicate that there are 50 million people living in modern slavery. Of these, 27.6 million people are in instances of forced labour and 22 million are in forced marriages. Women and girls make up 11.8 million of the total in forced labour. More than 3.3 million of all those in forced labour are children.

    An estimated 6.3 million people are in situations of forced commercial sexual exploitation at any point in time. Nearly four out of five people trapped in these situations are women and girls Source: Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage - Executive Summary (