Protect children from exploitation

Now more than ever, children need protection from predatory criminals who turn the vulnerability and desperation of their victims into big business. Human trafficking — the buying and selling of people for exploitative purposes — thrives in times of conflict and crisis, according to a study of 142 countries released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

"Human trafficking has taken on horrific dimensions as armed groups and terrorists use it to spread fear and gain victims to offer as incentives to recruit new fighters," says Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC,  citing child soldiers, forced labor and sexual slavery as examples.

Though it’s not clear how improvements in detection, recording and reporting methods have contributed to the rise, the conditions that put children at risk are clear. Turning war, political corruption, poverty and natural disasters to their advantage, traffickers are now generating approximately $39 billion annually on the exploitation of children alone.

According to the latest global estimates, 152 million children are in child labor and 25 million adults and children are in forced labor, including in global supply chains. One in four victims of modern slavery are children. 

Whether it is the trafficking of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the exploitation of Central American migrants bound for the United States, the sexual enslavement of women and girls in Europe, or the forced labor of sub-Saharan Africans or refugees from the Middle East, desperate families and individuals often feel they have little choice but to risk exploitation in an effort to survive.

How can we stop child and human trafficking?

Build Community: In the U.S., January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month; however, you can get active to raise awareness of violence and exploitation year-round.  Below are some ideas for how you can get started today:

Speak Out: Study up on the root causes of trafficking and spread the word using the hashtag #EndTrafficking and tagging @UNICEFUSA

Advocate: Send a letter to your elected officials to let them know that trafficking is an issue that matters to you 

Join UNICEF UNITE: UNICEF UNITE is UNICEF USA's grassroots movement, composed of volunteer-led and staff-supported local teams across the country advocating or taking action day in and day out to put children first. Become a UNITER today by visiting

What should you do if you suspect human trafficking?

If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Hotline is your best resource. Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking.

Text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 233733.

Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline via

Report missing children or child pornography to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or through Cybertipline.