Firstly, let’s clarify the terminology around child exploitation and child labour:

Child labour – work performed by children that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children, affecting their health and personal development, or that interferes with their compulsory schooling. It is important to note however, that not all child labour is forced labour.

Child soldiers – the use of children in armed conflict is one of the worst forms of child labour, a violation of human rights and a war crime. This Involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children through force, fraud, or coercion as combatants (soldiers) or for exploitative labour by armed forces. Perpetrators can be government forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. Some children are made to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry adult male combatants.

Worst forms of child labour – all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict. This may also include the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities and work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.

When children are trafficked, no violence, deception or coercion needs to be involved, trafficking is merely the act of transporting or harbouring them for exploitative work.

1 in 4 victims of modern slavery globally are children. In the UK, 43% of victims of modern slavery in the UK are children. Over the past 15 years, globally, the number of child victims of human trafficking has tripled.

Of the 45+ million people trapped in some form of modern slavery globally, 1 in 4 are children. The number of child victims of human trafficking has tripled in the past 15 years. 30% of global victims of slavery in 2018 were children. In the UK, 43% of the identified victims of slavery were children (2019). The average price for a child slave is $90.50% of victims of child sexual exploitation are girls.

152 million children are engaged in child labour globally. 73 million children are in hazardous work. 19.6% of child labour takes place in Africa (the region with the highest prevalence). 48% of victims are between five and eleven years old. 58% of victims are boys. 70.9% of child victims are working in some form of agricultural exploitation.

More than 700 million women today were married before their 18th birthday. 1 in 3 of those married before their 18th birthday (about 250 million women) were married before their 15th birthday. 300,000 children are estimated to serve as child soldiers, some younger than ten years old. 15.5 million children are in some form of domestic work worldwide. The majority are girls.

Over 5 million children are subjected to forced marriage. A pimp (someone who exploits people sexually) can make between $150,000-$200,000 per child every year. The global average age for a sex-trafficked child is 13-14 years old. 50% of sexually exploited children are boys and 76% of transactions for human trafficking with underage girls, start on the internet.

Poverty, limited opportunities, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions and economic imbalances are some of the key drivers that contribute to a child’s vulnerability in becoming a victim of modern slavery.

The children themselves may not know what awaits them. In cases of exploitation, children are unaware of their rights and often do not know how to get support.

Families may also make choices based on the limited range of options available. Rather than a lack of awareness, it is often out of economic desperation that a child ends up working in exploitative conditions; a social mobility strategy based on the lack of safe working opportunities.

Children are also subjected to forced labour in mining cobalt for our electronics, fishing in Thailand to supply to supermarkets, picking cotton in Uzbekistan for our clothing and palm oil for chocolate companies (to name a few examples).

It is important that we as children know how to stay safe and that is one of the purposes of Stolen Dreams; to educate you, give you tips on how to stay safe and provide you with the tools to take action in helping to end modern slavery in all its forms.

If you would like to know more about child slavery, click here.