Child trafficking manifests in various forms, each with its own set of causes and impacts, yet certain common factors underpin the vulnerability of children to exploitation. Understanding these common factors is essential for comprehensively addressing the issue of child trafficking and formulating effective prevention and intervention strategies.

Common Factors Contributing to Child Trafficking


Poverty is a primary driver of child trafficking, as families facing economic hardship may be more likely to resort to desperate measures to survive. Traffickers exploit the vulnerability of impoverished families by offering false promises of employment, education, or a better life for their children, only to subject them to exploitation and trafficking.

Lack of Education

Limited access to education increases children’s susceptibility to trafficking, as they may lack the knowledge and awareness to recognize potential risks and protect themselves. Traffickers target children with limited educational opportunities, often deceiving them with promises of education or training before subjecting them to exploitation.

Social Inequality

Social inequalities, including gender discrimination and marginalisation based on ethnicity, religion, or caste, contribute to the vulnerability of certain groups of children to trafficking. Girls, in particular, face heightened risks of exploitation, including sexual exploitation and forced marriage, due to entrenched gender inequalities and discriminatory practices.

Conflict and Instability

Humanitarian crises, armed conflict and political instability create environments ripe for child trafficking, as displacement, disruption of social structures, and breakdowns in governance increase children’s vulnerability to exploitation. In conflict-affected areas, children may be forcibly recruited as child soldiers or subjected to other forms of violence and exploitation.

Weak Legal and Law Enforcement Mechanisms

Weak or inadequate legal frameworks and ineffective law enforcement mechanisms enable traffickers to operate with impunity, facilitating the exploitation and trafficking of children. Corruption, lack of resources, and insufficient training of law enforcement officials further hinder efforts to combat child trafficking and protect victims.

Demand for Cheap Labour and Sexual Services

The demand for cheap labour and sexual services drives the trafficking of children, as traffickers seek to profit from exploiting children’s labour and bodies. In sectors such as  agriculture, manufacturing, construction, the commercial sex industry, brick-kilns and domestic work, children are often subjected to exploitative working conditions and sexual abuse to meet the demand for cheap and disposable labor.

Technological Advancements

Technological advancements, particularly the proliferation of the internet and social media, have created new avenues for traffickers to recruit, groom, and exploit children online. Cybersex trafficking, online grooming, and the dissemination of child sexual abuse material have become significant threats, requiring enhanced efforts to address the intersection of technology and child trafficking.

Impact of Child Trafficking

The impact of child trafficking is profound and multifaceted, encompassing a range of physical, psychological, social, and developmental consequences that can have lifelong effects on victims. While the specific impacts may vary depending on the form of trafficking and the individual circumstances of each case, certain commonalities exist across different types of exploitation. Understanding these impacts is crucial for effectively addressing the needs of trafficking victims and providing appropriate support and intervention.

Physical Consequences

Physical Abuse and Violence

Children subjected to trafficking often experience physical abuse and violence at the hands of traffickers or those exploiting them. This abuse may include beatings, sexual assault, torture, and exposure to hazardous working conditions, resulting in injuries, scars, and long-term health problems.

Health Risks

Trafficked children are at heightened risk of experiencing a range of health problems due to inadequate healthcare, poor living conditions, and exposure to exploitation. These health risks may include malnutrition, infectious diseases, reproductive health issues, substance abuse, and injuries resulting from forced labor or sexual exploitation.

Reproductive Health Complications

Children subjected to sexual exploitation may face reproductive health complications, including unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and reproductive tract infections. These complications can have serious long-term consequences for their physical health and well-being.

Psychological Consequences

Trauma and PTSD

Trafficked children often experience profound psychological trauma as a result of their exploitation, including feelings of fear, helplessness, and betrayal. Many develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma-related disorders, characterised by intrusive memories, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, and emotional numbing.

Depression and Anxiety

Trafficked children commonly suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders due to the chronic stress, trauma, and isolation they endure. They may struggle with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and shame, further exacerbating their psychological distress.

Disrupted Development

Trafficked children’s development, including cognitive, emotional, and social development, is often disrupted or delayed as a result of their exploitation. They may miss out on crucial educational opportunities, lack stable relationships and support networks, and struggle to form a sense of identity and self-worth.

Social Consequences

Stigmatisation and Rejection

Trafficked children often face social stigma and rejection from their communities and families, particularly if they are perceived as having engaged in taboo or shameful activities. This stigmatisation can further isolate them and hinder their reintegration into society.

Loss of Trust and Relationships

Trafficked children may experience profound loss of trust in others and difficulty forming meaningful relationships as a result of their exploitation. They may struggle to trust authority figures, caregivers, and peers, fearing further betrayal and exploitation.

Social Marginalization

Trafficked children are at risk of social marginalisation and exclusion due to their experiences of exploitation and trauma. They may face discrimination, barriers to accessing services and support, and limited opportunities for education, employment, and participation in community life.


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