Human trafficking and exploitation of children in the U.S. - Essay Prowess

Human trafficking and exploitation of children in the U.S.


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Human trafficking and exploitation of children in the U.S. is a growing concern that needs more attention

1.0 Abstract

Human trafficking is a horrible crime that goes against the basic right and dignity of a human person. It is described as the recruitment, transportation, and receipt or harboring of persons by means of fraud, force or coercion (Williamson& Prior, 2009).Human trafficking and exploiting of children in the U.S. is a growing concern that needs more attention. This research will address the reasons for constantly growing market of children becoming victims of human trafficking and exploitation of labor and sex. The significant aim of this research will be to investigate the actions that the U.S. can practice to minimize child trafficking and exploitation organizations. The study will also identify the anticipated problems caused by the trafficking of children for sex and child labor. Some of these problems include infection with HIV and contraction of STDs and the general physical harm. Literature review will address the actions that the US should take in order to minimize child trafficking and the exploitation organization. The findings of this study can help the US government to design the best strategies to implement in order to curb this child trafficking crime.

2.0 Background of the organization

Human trafficking and exploitation of children in the US is a growing concern that has attracted a lot of attention. There are several organizations that facilitate this illegal business, and they usually use individuals to confuse and give false promises to the victims (Estes& Weiner, 2001). These traders prey on the most vulnerable individuals in the society. Their main targets are children and young women, and they employ ruthless and creative strategy, designed to coerce, ploy and win the confidence of their target victims. These ruses mostly employ the use fake promises such as educational opportunities, employment, marriage or a better life to lure their victims. For instance, a young Vietnamese woman may agree to travel to the US to work in a factory (Hodge, 2008). These traffickers then take confiscate her travel documents and pay her minimal salary such that she cannot repay her travel costs.

Cases of human trafficking occur in almost every part of the country including rural, urban and suburban settings. These cases also occur in a wide range of industries as explained in the trafficking of persons’ report of 2013 (Estes& Weiner, 2001). Trafficking can take place in many legal and illegal industries or organizations such as hotel services, street prostitution, massage parlors and in brothels. It can also occur in health care, construction, janitorial services, manufacturing, agriculture, hospitality and domestic services. Some systems and services supported by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) have also reported cases of human trafficking (Williamson& Prior, 2009). Most cases of child trafficking are identified as sex trafficking. Of late, many child labor trafficking cases have been in peddling, restaurants, agricultural work and begging rings (Hodge, 2008).  The US government and many NGOs are working together in order to identify these organizations and stop human trafficking.

3.0 Background of the Problem

Human trafficking is a horrible crime that goes against the basic right and dignity of a human person. It is described as the recruitment, transportation and receipt or harboring of persons by means of fraud, force or coercion. Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar industry (Miko& Park, 2003). Researchers have shown that it is the fastest growing criminal industry in the globe. Victims of trafficking mainly come from developing countries and regions such as theformer Soviet Union, India, Asia, Southern America and Africa. Their destinations are all over the world, but the most affected country is the US (Hodge, 2008). Although those who come from developing countries are the most affected the by this criminal activity, human trafficking almost affects every country in the world. Most people are trafficked within the borders of their country of origin. Human trafficking is a trade that mostly involves children and young women for prostitution and other sexual exploitation.

Victims of human trafficking are mostly associated with poverty and lack of opportunity. They are linked to the strong urge to evade poverty and their perception of migration as a golden chance for escape. Many other factors make individuals vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation (Hodge, 2008). They include indebtedness, lack of parental education, family disintegration, corrupt government, poor monitoring of trade by the government and child labor (Estes& Weiner, 2001). They also include poor work environment, discrimination of the boys by the parents and domestic violence. Child sexual abuse has also been identified as a strong predisposing factor for human trafficking in the US. According to the research, 70 to 90% of all commercially sexually exploited youth have a history of child sexual abuse (Williamson& Prior, 2009). Children who are sexually abused have 28 times more chances of being arrested for prostitution than those who do not. Studies have also shown that those youths who undergone a rape and violent dating have a higher chance for human trafficking. The US government is collaborating with all relevant agencies to help in complete eradication of this vice in the whole world.

4.0 Problem Statement

Human trafficking and exploiting of children in the U.S. is a growing concern that needs more attention. This research will address the concern on the constantly growing market of children becoming victims of human trafficking and exploiting of sex and labor. Between 244,000 and 325,000 youths from US are considered at potential risk for sexual exploitation and an approximated 199,000 cases of minor sexual exploitation occur each year in the US(Hodge, 2008). These numbers, however, are only an estimation of youth who are at risk for human trafficking and does not include US adults trafficked into the sex industry (Williamson& Prior, 2009). These numbers still do not include US adults and children trafficked for labor. For us to get a better estimate of the people at risk of human trafficking, we should also estimate other at-risk populations such as runaway youth, prostitution victims, and child labor. In 1999, there was grouping of 1,682,900youth into runaway or throwaway youth and 71% of these youths were identified to be at risk for prostitution according to Miko& Park (2003).

National juvenile arrest data shed some light on the potential magnitude of youth trafficking in the US. In 2003, 2,220,300 juveniles in US were arrested, and this number was 11% fewer than that of 1999 (Estes& Weiner, 2001). During the same year, 1,400 youth were also arrested for practicing prostitution and other related commercialized vice. Among this youth, 69% were female, and 14% were below age 15. Unlike the total juvenile arrest rates, these figures increased by 31% between 1994 and 2003 (Hodge, 2008).In addition to domestic sex trafficking, US adults and minors are probably trafficked for forced labor. However, traffickers prefer children to adults in the labor world because they are easy in controlling, cheaper and do not demand better-working conditions as stated by Kotrla (2010).

Unfortunately, less is known about labor trafficking into and within the US as compared to what is known about sex trafficking. There is enough evidence that child labor exists in less-developed countries like Africa and developed countries such as US (Miko& Park, 2003). A study in an International Labor Organization proved that girls are mostly trafficked for commercial sex exploitation while boys tend to be trafficked for forced labor in commercial farming (Hodge, 2008).  Boys are also trafficked for petty crimes and the drug trade.

5.0 Research Question

  1. What actions can the U.S. practice to minimize child trafficking and exploitation organizations?

6.0 Anticipated Problems

A research done by the US Department of Health and Human Services highlighted that victims of child sex trafficking often suffer from health related problems. These problems include physical problems related to the beatings and rapes such as broken bones, wounds and other injuries(Miko& Park, 2003). Reproductive health problems including HIV exposure and other STIs, fertility issues and various gynecological diagnoses related to rape and sexual violence. Mental health problems such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and somatic complaints as a result of trauma (Hodge, 2008). Alcohol and other drug use which traffickers may force or used as coping mechanism for trauma and abuse and often lead to addiction (Kotrla, 2010). The study also identified common mental health symptoms reported because of repeated abuse. These symptoms include extreme anxiety and fear, changed relationship with others including lack of trust and self-destructive behavior such as suicide attempts as stated by Miko& Park (2003). They also include changed feelings about oneself, changed perceptions about the perpetrators and despair and hopelessness.

7.0 Significance of the Study

Human trafficking is a horrible crime that goes against the right and dignity of a person. The most affected people by human trafficking are the children and young women who are trafficked for sexual exploitation and even for child labor. Human trafficking and exploitation of children in the U.S. is a growing concern that needs more attention. The researcher wants to address the constantly growing market of children becoming victims of human trafficking and exploitation of sex and labor. Despite the large numbers of victims of this horrible crime, the number of traffickers caught and a punished for this crime is very low (Estes& Weiner, 2001).In 2000, the US Congress passed a benchmark legislation called the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) which laid a framework for dealing with perpetrators of this vice (Williamson& Prior, 2009). The church is also in the forefront in fighting for the abolishment of this vice in the US especially the Catholic Church.  Various NGOs such as UNICEF are also collaborating with the US government to end this vice. This study will recommend the best actions that the U.S. should practice to minimize child trafficking and exploitation organizations.

8.0 Chapter 2

8.1 Review of Literature


Human trafficking and exploiting of children in the U.S. is a growing concern that needs more attention. The researcher wants to address the issue on the constantly growing market of children becoming victims of human trafficking and exploiting of sex and labor. The literature review will answer the problem question of what actions can the US practice to minimize child trafficking and exploitation organizations.

8.1.2 Effective Strategies in the War against Human Trafficking

Effective ant-trafficking strategies need to target all the three aspects of the trade. These aspects include the supply side, traffickers’ side, and the demand side. On the supply side, the conditions that encourage trafficking should be addressed with programs that alert communities to the dangers of trafficking (Estes& Weiner, 2001).These programs should also improve educational opportunities, promote rights equality, improve the economy and educate affected communities on their legal rights. They should also create better opportunities of life. At the level of the traffickers, law enforcement programs should identify and close all trafficking routes and do the clarification of legal definitions (Kotrla, 2010).They should also carry out the coordination of law enforcement responsibilities and ensure that traffickers are prosecuted together with those who assist them. They should also eliminate public corruption that facilitates and profits from the illegal trade thus encouraging erosion of the rule of law.

On the demand side, individuals who exploit and abuse trafficked persons should be identified and prosecuted. Forced labor employers and exploiters of trafficked victims for sexual should be named and ashamed (Miko& Park, 2003). Campaigns for creating awareness must be performed in the in the affected countries in order to make it difficult for concealing or ignoring trafficking. People should be withdrawn from sexual exploitation and slave-like jobs and taken back to their families and communities. Local, state, national and regional programs should be coordinated in order to fight human trafficking (Hodge, 2008).  Drawing public attention to the problem can force the government to increase allocations of anti-trafficking resources. The government can also facilitate improved understanding of the problem and design effective strategies.

Collaboration and cooperation whether national, bilateral or regional will strengthen the country efforts and help in the recruitment of more volunteers to this fight. There should be harmonization of International standards and nations should collaborate in order to deny traffickers legal freedom (Estes& Weiner, 2001).Various organizations such as the religious institutions, community associations, traditional leaders, schools, and NGOs need to be mobilized in this struggle. The victims together with their families require to be equipped with skills training and other alternative economic opportunities. These anti-trafficking strategies need periodic examination in order to ensure that they remain effective and innovative (Kotrla, 2010). Finally, the government should train its officials in effective anti-trafficking techniques. There should also be regular statistical tracking of the trafficking flows in order to illuminate the magnitude and nature of the problem.

8.1.3 Significance of Coordination

It is practically impossible for a single system to combat successfully human trafficking. The process of prevention, identification and serving victims of trafficking is a multisystem coordinated approach that involves local, tribal, state and federal levels (Estes & Weiner, 2001).  At the local level, it is of importance for homeless and runaway youths service providers and child welfare staff to collaborate with various agencies in the fight of this vice (Kotrla, 2010). These agencies include law enforcement, courts, juvenile corrections, schools, mental and medical health professionals, legal service providers and Child Advocacy Centers (Hodge, 2008). They can also collaborate with crime victim service providers as well as community and faith-based organizations. This collaboration would assist in the understanding of the trafficking problem as it relate to their community and design a coherent response.

Recently, there have been some significant coordinated efforts to look into child sex trafficking. The FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative has helped in the development of 66 Child Exploitation Task Forces. It has also helped in active working groups across the US since the beginning of the initiative in 2003 (Miko& Park, 2003). Many of these task forces have incorporated collaborations with RHY and CW agencies. These agencies have played an integral role in the assisting law enforcement target their investigations and in assisting rescued sexually, exploited children recover. The FBI has deployed full-time victim specialists in all their field division to help the minor victims. Up to date, this initiative has led to the recovery of over 2,700 children and 1,350 convictions of perpetrators of child sexual exploitation nationwide (Miko& Park, 2003).Agencies are in a position to access a list of state resources that is put aside for combatting trafficking.

The ongoing coordinated efforts need to incorporate better local data collection methods on the prevalence and the victims’ needs as this data can reveal the required intervention strategies. Law enforcement officers and street outreach workers can collaborate in the collection and compilation of data on victims identified in the streets (Miko& Park, 2003). In the area where trafficking is a known challenge, multiple system representatives should occasionally meet to design and implement strategies on how to collect useful trafficking data. These strategies can also help in enacting prevention efforts, identification of victims and provide coherent and effective services to the victims. On reservations of Native American, the investigations concerning child sex trafficking incorporates complex and diverse jurisdictional relationships between tribal, federal and state governments (Estes& Weiner, 2001). All partners should collaborate in the fight against child trafficking and exploitation. Coordination is significant in the effective identification and protection of the victims

8.1.4 Child Welfare Responses

Within the child welfare system, there are foundational premises of the family that plays an integral role in helping trafficking child victims. They help in the designation and implementation of a service plan with child victims of trafficking who seek attention from the child welfare system and their families (Williamson& Prior, 2009).Their services include supporting and promotion of long-term improved condition and promoting strength-based engagement. Every child in foster care requires individualized assessment of strengths and needs of the family(Kotrla, 2010). This assessment help in the building of a service plan in partnership with the family that emphasizes permanency, safety and well-being of the child. However, trafficking child victims often presents with unique complexities and needs that deserve additional attention and support from the service provider agencies and caregivers (Hodge, 2008). Some of the complex needs include language and communication barriers, severe medical needs, disengagement from family structure and compelling educational setbacks.

Child welfare agencies are strongly encouraged to develop internal capacity in dealing specifically with victims of childtrafficking and exploitation. These capacities include staff training, institutional education and supporting procedures and policies (Estes& Weiner, 2001). These engagements can help child welfare agencies to develop a better understanding and serve victims of child trafficking in a more effective manner. Some children in foster care develop tendencies of running away while still in care, and this put them at increased risk for child trafficking and exploitation.  This incidence shows that it is crucial for states and tribes to have protocols and processes in place to track them effectively while they are on the run. Measures should be put in place for effective response to the youth when they return from being on the run according toWilliamson& Prior (2009).

There are numerous other directives policy that child welfare agencies can consider adopting to meet the needs of these children. Some of these policies include multidisciplinary case referrals and staffing where cases of youth trafficking have been identified (Miko& Park, 2003). Options of placements include kinship care and both federal and state foster care for both citizens and non-citizens child victims. Extensive training for state child welfare and protection units, as well as other state agency referral providers and subcontractors, should be implemented (Estes& Weiner, 2001). Training should also extend to community-based care agencies, residential shelters, mandated reporters, law guardians and child protection teams.

8.1.5 Conclusion

Human trafficking is a horrible crime that denies persons their right and dignity. Trafficking and exploitation of children for sexual favors and child labor should be discouraged by all means in the US and the whole World. The US government can apply the discussed strategies to minimize child trafficking and exploitation organizations.


Estes, R. J., & Weiner, N. A. (2001).The commercial sexual exploitation of children in the US, Canada, and Mexico.University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Work, Center for the Study of Youth Policy.

Hodge, D. R. (2008).Sexual trafficking in the United States: A domestic problem with transnational dimensions.Social Work, 53(2), 143-152.

Kotrla, K. (2010). Domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States.Social work, 55(2), 181-187.

Miko, F. T., & Park, G. (2003).Trafficking in women and children: The US and international response. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.

Williamson, C., & Prior, M. (2009). Domestic minor sex trafficking: A network of underground players in the Midwest. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 2(1), 46-61.