Anisa Nepali, poses for a portrait in their one-room makeshift home that was built using tin sheets after the earthquake destroyed her house in Sangachok, Sindhupalchok, Nepal. Photo Credit: Suzanne Lee/Save the Children 2016

Anisa* poses for a portrait in their one-room makeshift home that was built using tin sheets after the earthquake destroyed her house in Sangachok, Sindhupalchok, Nepal.

Protecting Children from Exploitation

Due to violence, discrimination and extreme climate change, millions of children are being forced from their homes and are fleeing for their very lives. Many of these children are making the perilous journey alone and are at high risk or being targeted by traffickers who prey on vulnerable children.

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 are often severely abused and cut off from all contact with their families.

How Save the Children Fights Trafficking

Save the Children works to combat child trafficking through prevention, protection and prosecution. In order to maximize our efforts, we work with communities, local organizations and civil society, and national governments to protect children from being exploited – and to help restore the dignity of children who have survived.

Save the Children takes a holistic approach to tackle the root causes of trafficking and involves children in the design and implementation of solutions.

Working alongside communities and local and national governments, our programs:

  • Prevent trafficking at the community level by creating awareness of the risks of migration
  • Provide support to children who have been trafficked and help them return home and reintegrate into their communities
  • Improve law enforcement and instigate legal reform to protect survivors of trafficking

By supporting livelihoods, we help families avoid the need for their children to work. By raising awareness of trafficking we reduce the number of children being trafficked. By rehabilitating survivors, we help them rebuild their lives. By protecting unaccompanied refugee children, we keep them from the clutches of traffickers.

We Launch Advocacy Campaigns

With all the excitement that led 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 launched an advocacy campaign called "Open Your Eyes" with radio and television programs, interviews, posters and postcards that reached 250,000 people. The former national team captain, Tico-Tico, even volunteered his own time to appear in several advertisements highlighting the problem of child trafficking. Even after the World Cup was over, this advocacy worked to help protect vulnerable children from exploitation.

We 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. Save the Children also conducts awareness trainings in schools so that children can learn how to keep safe and how 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.

We 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.

How You Can Help

By supporting Save the Children, you can help us prevent human trafficking, improve law enforcement to prevent other children from being trafficking, and provide support, help and hope to children who have had their childhoods stolen through trafficking and exploitation.

*Names have been changed for protection


We’ll be in touch! By signing up to receive emails from Save the Children you will receive a subscription to our monthly eNews, access to breaking emergency alerts and opportunities to get involved. To ensure delivery of Save the Children emails to your inbox, add to your contact list.