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Child Trafficking in the United States

According to Archer (2013), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as the acquisition of adults and children through improper means such as deception, fraud and force with the objective of exploiting them. While the United States does not have child soldiers, labor camps or prostitution rings that certain nations have, human trafficking exists substantially in the country. Based on the report by OURrescue (2017), more than two million children are trafficked for sex worldwide, with approximately 250,000 of those trafficked children living in the United States and a further ten thousand smuggled into the nation each year. This number of trafficked children in the United States is large enough to fill the NRG Stadium which holds seventy thousand people, more than three times. As such, trafficking is not an issue that is solely in other nations. The United Nations is both a source and transit nation for child trafficking and is also contemplated as one of the top destinations for victims of child trafficking and exploitation as UNICEF USA (2018) states. Numerous cases of child trafficking have been reported in all the fifty U.S. states involving children of discordant gender, class, race, citizenship or education.Child Trafficking in the United States

While there are many reasons and objectives of human trafficking such as forced labor, sex, servitude and slavery, child trafficking in the United States is mostly undertaken for sex and labor. When it comes to sex trafficking, people and organizations in the United States will lure and trap both adults and children and force them to engage in sex, that is, rape or sell their bodies for a profit. Based on the report by the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were more than 6,081 cases of human sex trafficking in 2017 (Ryan, 2018). Nonetheless, this is just a fraction of the actual number of children who have been lured and raped by people in the United States and other kept as sex slaves. There are numerous cases that go unnoticed and unreported each year. The report by the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children revealed that approximately fourteen percent of their missing children reports were confirmed victims of child sex trafficking and rape. This percentage represents one out of every seven children involved.

When adults and children are not being lured and seized for sex, they are being used for forced labor. Ryan (2018) reports that in the recent years, there has been continuous smuggling of Guatemalan teenagers into the United States to work in an egg farm in Ohio. In addition, the working conditions were not conducive or favorable in that they worked for long hours, with little to no pay and no running water. Any complaints brought forward by the children were met with threats, especially to their families back in Guatemala since the traffickers had ties back to their countries of origin. It is important to note that convincing a child forcefully or without force to work at such a tender age requires luring promises or financial schemes. For instance, in the case of the Guatemala teenagers, they were promised high wages and foreign education (Ryan, 2018). However, they ended up working in austere conditions with little to no pay and the fear of their families being attacked should they decide to stop working.Child Trafficking in the United States

In other cases, children find themselves in situations of forced labor far away from home due to their families being in debt bondage. Such families are normally forced or tricked into a large amount of debt and forced to work to pay off that debt with the aim of gaining their freedom once again. However, this almost never comes true since when a family owes $40,000 and make ten cents an hour, they are forced to let their children work in foreign countries just to try and clear this debt.

To fully comprehend the fight against human trafficking, particularly child trafficking for sex and labor in the United States, it is vital to know how the act occurs. The main ways children are trafficked in the United States are sparse parental supervision, Internet luring and smuggling. In many foreign nations, traffickers tend to lure young girls and boys by offering them a spot in a modeling school. Since their parents are normally in poverty, they consider such opportunities as heaven sent and agree to let their children go so as to get them out of poverty. Nonetheless, these modeling opportunities end up placing these children at the hands of rapists and traffickers who use them in forced labor, as sex slaves and prostitutes in hotels, as well as, in making child pornography. Based on this understanding, parents must take an active role in protecting their children from trafficking under the guise of promises of work, better pay and better life.

Letting children use the Internet, especially social media platforms without adequate protection, supervision and education can be compared to bar hoping as the report by OURrescue (2017) shows. Numerous traffickers are looking for children on the Internet and coming up with various ways of luring them. They tend to groom children via the Internet, target those with low self-esteem and eventually meet them in person. Thus, it is vital to ask children if they have received a request from a person that they do not know and follow-up on them so as to protect them from human trafficking.Child Trafficking in the United States

Children are also smuggled into the United States each year where they are then exploited for sex. Approximately ten thousand children are smuggled each year into the U.S. from other countries. In order to prevent such human trafficking through smuggling, law enforcement agencies must be vigilant in their identification of traffickers and increased scrutiny of areas that smugglers use to bring children into the United States for sex and forced labor.




Archer, D. (2013). Human Trafficking In America. Retrieved from

OURrescue. (2017). 3 Ways Kids are Trafficked in America – OUR Stories. Retrieved from

Ryan, L. (2018). Human trafficking in the US: A basic rundown | NEWSREP. Retrieved from

UNICEF USA. (2018). Child Trafficking. Retrieved from