Child Trafficking: A Public Health Concern

Human trafficking is not only a global issue, but also a major public health concern within the United States. Studies suggest that up to half of trafficking victims seek medical attention at least once during their trafficking situation. This represents a large, often-missed opportunity for healthcare professionals to intervene. The injustices of human trafficking include forced labor, involuntary servitude, child soldiers, and sex trafficking. Some estimate that over 20 million men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking worldwide. [1] However, the scope of the problem is difficult to quantify, given the covert nature of the crime. The U.S. government no longer includes official estimates in its annual “Trafficking in Persons” reports. In 2004, the Department of Justice estimated that 14,500-17,500 trafficking victims were brought to the U.S. each year. [2] In addition to the victims brought illegally to this country, another 300,000+ youth within the U.S. are thought to be at risk of exploitation. [3]  As many as 80% of trafficking victims are female, and one-third to one-half are minors. [4] Cases of child trafficking have been confirmed in all 50 U.S. states over the last decade. [3]

Here’s what pediatricians can do to help: (more…)


Increasing training for human trafficking awareness, a fight against modern-day slavery

Human trafficking as defined under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act is “The recruitment, harboring, transporting, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, slavery, or forced commercial sex acts.“

According to US Department of State there maybe as many as 27 million persons in modern-day slavery world wide. Approximately 17,000 foreign nationals are trafficked into the US every year, however, there is a large domestic component as well, with as many as 244,000 children and youth at risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation (according to a 2001 study by the University of Pennsylvania). The vast majority of victims of human trafficking are women and children, with up to 50% of these victims being children.Due to lack of systematic methods for tracking numbers of human trafficking cases, exact numbers with in the US are difficult to estimate. Texas however, appears to be a major hub for human trafficking into the US, with as many at 1 in 5 victims passing through the state. (more…)