Trafficking of a child is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation.
To read about an anti-trafficking programme in action, click the link below:
When should we use anti-trafficking programmes?
- At all stages of an emergency, including early response
- When children have been separated from parents and caregivers
- When families are struggling to cope with meeting daily needs and/or struggle to find work
- In displacement contexts or where homes have been destroyed or damaged
Working with communities to identify and mitigate the risks of trafficking
Working to understand in depth who is perpetrating trafficking and the motivating factors behind it can be critical in targeting activities so that they have a genuine impact on the issue. Robust advocacy efforts need to be followed up with interventions to prevent abuse and exploitation throughout recovery. Proper planning just after an emergency helps reduce the gaps that traffickers later exploit when the emergency phase has passed. Effective programmes combine awareness-raising elements with practical support for children and families.
Elements of an anti-trafficking programme may involve:
- Awareness raising is especially effective when communities develop the messages themselves, although this may not be possible in the very early stages of an emergency response where children are at immediate risk of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Messaging could be carried out through existing community structures, or through child friendly spaces or community-based child protection committees.
- Awareness raising must provide a clear understanding of what trafficking entails and how it presents in the local context.
- Community and child-led mechanisms can have a significant impact:
- children’s groups can create dramas about their experience
- children’s groups or child protection committees can make visits to at-risk families and talk to children and hear their views, looking out for indications of trafficking or extended family members offering to take children away
Strengthening and supporting the response of government institutions
- Efforts should be made to support government institutions in effective anti-trafficking responses. Avoid fostering dependence and coordinate to leverage resources and avoid duplication.
- Supporting children to access identification documents such as birth certificates also reduces the risk of exploitation
Family tracing and reunification and interim care
Children who are without parental care are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation and need special protection measures.
- Coordinated tracing systems should be established immediately so that children should be reunited as soon as possible with their families
- Permanent alternative care such as adoption should not be considered until a reasonable period of time has elapsed
- Transport and travel of children should be limited to reduce the risk of trafficking and abduction
Connecting children and caregivers to support that strengthens their livelihoods or economic circumstances
It is important to ensure that children are not separated from their families due to economic pressures and strategies should be put in place to reduce the chances of this occurring both in the short and long term.
- Conditional and unconditional cash transfers
- mentoring and support with vocational training
- income generating activities, employment and business training and support
- referrals into social welfare and social protection schemes
Tools and resources
Material on this page is primarily taken from:
- CPWG (2014), Responding to the worst forms of child labour in emergencies
- ECPAT, Protecting children from sexual exploitation and sexual violence in disaster and emergency situations
Additional tools and resources for anti-trafficking programmes are available here