Human Trafficking and its Impact on Schools
Trafficking can involve school-age children—particularly those not living with their parents—who are vulnerable to coerced labor exploitation, domestic servitude, or commercial sexual exploitation.
Sex traffickers target children because of their vulnerability and gullibility, as well as the market demand for young victims. Those who recruit minors into prostitution violate federal anti-trafficking laws, even if there is no coercion or movement across state lines. The children at risk are not just high school students—studies demonstrate that pimps prey on victims as young as 12. Traffickers target their minor victims through telephone and on-line chat-rooms, clubs, on the street, through friends, and at malls, as well as by using girls to recruit other girls at schools and after-school programs.
Child trafficking is linked to a host of social issues including public health problems, the growth of organized crime, and decreased economic productivity due to lower education levels of victims. Its deep psychosocial impact on victims includes physical health problems such as malnourishment and sexually transmitted infections as well as emotional problems ranging from depression and anxiety to low self-esteem and behavioral problems.10 The spread of HIV/AIDS to victims of sex trafficking contributes to a public health epidemic,11 and the educational deprivation that many victims experience relegates them to the lowest rungs of society.