How you can help stop child trafficking!

Now more than ever, children need your 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 — is on the rise according to a new study of 142 countries just 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 labour 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 upon the exploitation of children alone.

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.

Crippling poverty and prolonged drought in their native Somalia, made Nadira Mohammed’s sister susceptible to traffickers' lure. Feeling she had no options at home, Nadira’s sister (whose name is being withheld for her protection) took traffickers up on their offer of free passage to Europe and a better life. That was the last Nadira and her family heard from the young woman, although her traffickers remain in contact, having already extorted hundreds of dollars from Nadira’s mother. None of that has deterred Nadira, who’s 14, from her plan to follow in her sister’s footsteps.

How can we stop child and human trafficking?

Check out UNICEF USA’s End Trafficking Toolkit: In the U.S., January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month — also known as End Trafficking Month (ETM) here at UNICEF USA. To join the conversation and take meaningful action, explore UNICEF USA's End Trafficking Toolkit, which offers loads of information and ways you can raise get active in January and throughout the year.

Speak Out: Study up on the root causes of trafficking and spread the word on February 1 using the hashtags #DemandChange and #EndTrafficking.

Advocate: Let your mayor or member of congress know that trafficking is an issue that matters to you. You can send a letter, either as a group or as an individual. The End Trafficking Toolkit offers draft letters you can easily customize or send out as is. You may also speak out against trafficking online through the UNICEF USA Action Center.

Host an Event or Fundraiser: Planning an event or fundraiser is a great opportunity to raise awareness or funds for UNICEF’s child protection work. The UNICEF UNITE team can help you identify potential collaborators to help with planning, sponsorship and implementation. Make sure to register all events with UNICEF USA at: unicefusa. org/submit-your-event-application and take photos to share, tagging @EndTraffick on social or by emailing: endtrafficking@unicefusa.org. For more event planning tips, check out the End Trafficking Toolkit.

Share Your Stories: Spread the word on social media by sharing this article--tagging @EndTraffick--or crafting your own messaging using the UNICEF USA Social Press Kit.

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.

Chat the National Human Trafficking Hotline via www.humantraffickinghotline.org/chat

Submit a tip online through the anonymous online reporting form below.

The information you provide will be reviewed by the National Hotline. All reports are confidential and you may remain anonymous. Interpreters are available via phone call only.

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.