Homes are not made of one plank of wood or one brick. They are built of many pieces that contribute to a larger structure – one that is meant to provide safety and comfort for its inhabitants for years to come. When looking at a house, it is easy to forget that it is made up of smaller pieces and that, without even one of these bricks, the home would cease to stand.
UNICEF's child protection work is much like a home: there are many seemingly disparate pieces that, when combined, are vital to the achievement of a larger goal. UNICEF's anti-child trafficking work, including the End Trafficking program is one of many critical initiatives working to ensure that children's rights are protected and that children everywhere have the opportunity to thrive. End Trafficking sits alongside other crucial child protection issues, such as:
- Preventing the recruitment of children by armed groups and forces
- Birth registration
- Ending child marriage
- Removal of landmines and other explosive remnants of war
What often makes child protection work difficult to comprehend, is that many initiatives attempt to address harmful systems or social norms, rather than react to direct tangible needs, making immediate outcomes harder to measure. For example, ending child marriage may require working with governments to shape policies or engaging with community members to challenge the notion that children – especially girls – should be married at a young age. Monitoring the success of these types of initiatives is a longer-term process, whereas measuring the success of a vaccination campaign may be more immediate. Both programs achieve a critical outcome: ensuring childhood survival and protecting children's rights; however, it is understandably harder to conceptualize the benefit of a prevention-based child protection program when its benefits occur over many years or are not easily quantifiable.
This does not mean that child protection work is not crucial.
In fact, addressing systemic inequalities is necessary to build long-term systemic changes that will support children, not only today, but decades into the future. While benefits from this type of work are not immediate, they are incredibly powerful. The End Trafficking Project believes that ending trafficking does not stop at providing direct survivor support, but that it requires creating a culture where trafficking cannot thrive in the first place. This means addressing underlying issues such as the demand for commercial sex and cheap goods, as well as mitigating or eliminating the vulnerabilities that may make a child susceptible to trafficking, such as poverty, gender inequality, and unsafe migration. Though we may not witness the culmination of our work, we truly believe that planting the seed for change is not just important, but imperative, for creating a brighter future for children everywhere.
January is End Trafficking Month!
Here's how to get involved:
- Tune into the Ending Human Trafficking Locally and Globally podcast on January 11th to learn about how students can get engaged to end trafficking.
- Tell your representatives that you support the passage of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. (Check out our blog post on January 22nd to learn more!)
- Join us in ending trafficking by donating to support the End Trafficking Project at UNICEF USA!
- Join us in activating for National Freedom Day on February 1st. For sample posts, please visit the UNICEF USA Social Media Press Kit.
Want to learn more about child protection and how to make systemic change in your own community?
Here are some action items and questions for thought:
- Check out UNICEF USA's global Child Protection work here.
- Your voice is powerful. Do research on local anti-trafficking laws. See a gap or harmful policy? Let your congressperson know. You can identify your Representative or Senator here.
- Make systemic change part of your job description by running for political office!
- Are you a student that wants to learn more about trafficking? Ask your teacher or professor to lead a discussion or entire class on trafficking issues.