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Child Trafficking

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Human trafficking is the recruitment, movement and receipt of a person, with deception or coercion, into a situation of exploitation.
Trafficking can be cross-border or internally within one country The Palermo Protocol establishes children as a special case. Any child transported for exploitative reasons is considered to be a trafficking victim, whether or not they have been forced or deceived. This is partly because it is not considered possible for children to give informed consent. Even when a child understands what has happened, they may still appear to submit willingly to what they believe to be the will of their parents
“Child” shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.

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Childline produced this short video about a young person from Eritrea who was trafficked.


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Why do people traffic children?

Children are trafficked for many reasons, including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, labour, benefit fraud and involvement in criminal activity such as pick-pocketing, theft and working in cannabis farms. There are a number of cases of minors being exploited in the sex industry. 

How are children recruited and controlled?

  • confiscating the child’s identity documents;
  • threatening to report the child to the authorities; 
  • violence, or threats of violence, towards the child; 
  • threats of violence towards members of the child’s family; 
  • keeping the child socially isolated; 
  • keeping the child locked up; 
  • telling children that they owe large sums of money and that they must work to pay this off; 

How to deal with disclosure

Your attitude and approach towards the child will be pivotal in whether the person feels able to disclose fully, and for you to direct them to the necessary sources for help. Think about your gender, appearance and behaviour and the effect of all three on the distressed and traumatised child. 
The difference between human trafficking cases and most other criminal investigations is the complex need to remain victim-focused, the safety and welfare of the child is paramount..

What should I do?

If any suspicions are raised that a child or young person is being trafficked, or at risk of this, immediate action to safeguard the child or young person is required. This includes urgent liaison with the Police.  Planning of the investigations should be within a Strategy Meeting, for the immediate protection of the child or young person and to address possible crimes having been committed. 

Safeguarding Children who may have been Trafficked–Practice Guidance (DFE 2011) 

The United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre [UKHTC] is a multi-agency centre that that provides a central point for the development of expertise and cooperation in relation to the trafficking of human beings [THB], working together with other stakeholders from the governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental sectors in the UK and abroad. 

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a procedure that is managed and overseen by the UKHTC. The Government is committed to minimising the impact on child victims and to ensuring that child victims are not unnecessarily asked to recount their experiences to different agencies. The NRM provides a valuable and useful tool for agencies to gather and share information on potential victims and, through work aimed at raising the awareness of the NRM, this strategy will help to ensure that agencies coordinate and share information to ensure the needs of child victims are appropriately assessed and met. 


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Understanding child protection processes
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