31 Jan At Risk of Trafficking: Victimized Children at Risk of Further Victimization
What is human trafficking?
We hear stories on the news or in online articles that talk about human trafficking. Or headlines about criminal charges involving young people being sold for sex or drugs by their own family members. These are not issues overseas, but in our own backyards and not just in large urban areas, but also in rural communities. Child trafficking happens in Kentucky and it is something we need to talk about.
Trafficking of both children and adults, happens for many different reasons, many of which revolves around exploiting those trafficked for financial gain, sexual gratification, or the exertion of power.
January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery. It is the exploitation of men, women, and children through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of forced labor or services or commercial sex.
In Kentucky, 59 percent of victims of human trafficking are children. Victims of human trafficking range in age from infancy through age 17, but according to the Annual Report of Kentucky Child Victims of Human Trafficking, most victims are between the ages of 14 to 17. According to Kentucky law, when children are involved in commercial sex, which includes stripping, pornography or prostitution, they are victims of human trafficking; there is no need to show force, fraud or coercion.
What does human trafficking have to do with child abuse?
During the month of January, and every other month, when thinking about human trafficking, especially sex trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children, it is important to understand how children and young adults often end up in these situations.
Children and young adults who have experienced trauma, especially physical and sexual abuse and neglect, are at an increased risk of being trafficked. While human trafficking can affect all demographics, there are factors that make some more vulnerable than others. Those factors include:
– Runaway and homeless youth
– Individuals who have experienced violence and trauma such as domestic violence, sexual assault, war and conflict, or social discrimination
– Foreign nationals
Child abuse prevention and trauma reduction is on the frontlines of helping to prevent trafficking. Secondary prevention, like helping to mitigate the effects of trauma with access to mental health services can also help to better serve communities and put a plug in the pipeline from abuse to trafficking.
Want to learn more? Check out the links below.
– More information on how to recognize and help victims of human trafficking can be found here.
– A few organizations who work with survivors of human trafficking locally are:
– Bakhita Empowerment Initiative of Catholic Charities