Because child trafficking is lucrative and often linked with criminal activity and corruption, it is hard to estimate how many children suffer, but trafficking and exploitation is an increasing risk to children around the world. Often they are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, like prostitution, or for labor such as domestic servitude, agricultural work, factory work, mining, or child soldiering. There are 215 million children engaged in child labor, with 115 million of those children in hazardous work. Sometimes sold by a family member or an acquaintance, sometimes lured by false promises of education and a "better" life — the reality is that these trafficked and exploited children are held in slave-like conditions without enough food, shelter, or clothing and often severely abused and cut off from all contact with their families.
What We Do: Launch Advocacy Campaigns
With all the excitement leading up to the South Africa World Cup 2010, it is easy to forget that such a major sporting event can lead to child trafficking and unsafe child migration. To help protect children during this time, and raise community awareness of the dangers, Save the Children in Mozambique has launched an advocacy campaign called "Open Your Eyes" with radio and television programs, interviews, posters and postcards that will reach 250,000 people. The former national team captain, Tico-Tico, even volunteered his own time to appear in several advertisements to highlight the problem of child trafficking. Even though the World Cup will soon be over, Save the Children hopes that this advocacy will help protect vulnerable children long after the champions and fans return home.
Using materials developed by Save the Children, school girls and boys in El Salvador learn how to protect themselves against trafficking.
What We Do: Support Public Policy and Training
One of the reasons that trafficking and exploitation of children flourish is because often there are not strong enough policies against it. Save the Children in El Salvador targeted Mejicanos, one of the most frequent areas for trafficking of children, and supported the municipal council in drafting the first ever ordinance to prevent trafficking and monitor its implementation. Awareness trainings are conducted in schools so children can learn how to keep safe and where to report if they see or know of suspicious activity. But trafficking knows no boundaries, and now the major of Mejicanos is working with Save the Children to share his experience and replicate its success throughout El Salvador.
What We Do: Use Research in Creative Ways to Protect Children
Positive Deviance is an approach to change behaviors of families and communities that is well documented in improving health and nutrition of children. Save the Children used this approach in two child protection programs — one to prevent trafficking in girls for commercial sex work in Indonesia, and the other to reintegrate girls who were abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and girl mothers into their communities in Uganda.