Child trafficking trends outlined in new report

August 3, 2023 – Globally, over 50% of child trafficking victims are recruited by family and friends, according to a new report by the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights at Harvard University and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The report also identified other major trends in child trafficking as well as a complex range of factors that make children more susceptible.

The report analyzed 20 years of data from over 69,000 victims across 186 countries, from the IOM Victims of Trafficking database. Among its many findings, the report showed that major methods of controlling victims included false promises, psychological and physical abuse, and threats. Furthermore, 43% of victims, mainly boys, were trafficked for forced labor in industries such as domestic work, begging, and agriculture; 21% of victims, mainly girls, faced sexual exploitation such as forced prostitution, pornography, and sexual servitude. Among factors increasing victims’ vulnerability to being trafficked were having little or no education or living in low-income countries.

The report recommended that countries develop policies to fight child trafficking based on reliable, up-to-date data so that they can combat trafficking effectively. “A comprehensive, coordinated, equity-based response is urgently needed to ensure that humanity honors its responsibility and commitment to protect children,” said report co-author Vasileia Digidiki, director of FXB’s Intensive Summer Course on Migration and Refugee Studies in Greece and an FXB health and human rights fellow.

Jacqueline Bhabha, professor of the practice of health and human rights at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and FXB director of research, was also a co-author of the report.

Read the report: From Evidence to Action: Twenty Years of IOM Child Trafficking Data to Inform Policy and Programming

Read a July 5 Telegraph article about the report: Thousands of child trafficking victims recruited by ‘own family and friends’

Read a July 6 Business Standard article about the report: Most child trafficking victims trafficked domestically: Report