Child trafficking is a real, worldwide issue. Trafficking “involves the recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing, or harbouring of a person- or the exercise of control, direction, or influence over the movements of a person – to exploit or facilitate the exploitation of that person (Public Safety Canada, 2022). Human trafficking has been on the incline since 2011, most often though this is a hard crime to detect, making education and awareness on what trafficking actually looks like very important. Although the “Sound of Freedom” movie increases awareness of child trafficking, it also propagates some harmful myths for cinematic effect. Here are some evidence-based facts on child trafficking that the movie overlooked or ignored.
- Similar to sexual abuse, most youth who experience human trafficking know their traffickers. These are people that they know and trust. Traffickers build a relationship of trust. They can be friends, ex/current/prospective romantic partners, family members, or another individual they trust. Traffickers may start the relationship in this “honeymoon” phase where they complement the potential victim, buy them gifts, pay special attention to them. Traffickers know what potential victims need, like drugs, alcohol, money, ID, or a passport. They will prey on these vulnerabilities and profit from them. They may threaten to harm the victim, or the victims’ loved ones if they don’t comply.
- Most trafficking victims are teens, not prepubescent children with 96% of all detected victims of human trafficking identifying as women and girls. However, again these teen girls know their traffickers. Common situations being a young female whose intimate partner sets up “dates” for them or someone who supplies drugs or alcohol for the young female if they have sex with people.
- Most of the victims of human trafficking are experiencing poverty and/or those who identify with a racialized group. In Canada, the oppressive and racist policies such as the Indian Act, residential schools, and the sixties scoop have led to higher rates of depression, substance use, unsafe housing, and intergenerational trauma. Thus, leaving many Indigenous women and girls at a high risk for sex trafficking (Sethi, 2007). Additionally, many 2SLGBTQ+ youth who are at an increased risk of experiencing home insecurity due to family rejection, social discrimination, or marginalization.
If you or a loved one is experiencing human trafficking, you can:
- Call 911 immediately
- Call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline 1.833.900.1010 or chat on their website www.canadianhumantraffickinghotline.ca
- Call ACT Alberta 780.474.1104 or visit www.actalberta.org
- Call Dragonfly Centre Sexual Violence Services 1-866-300-4325
If you’re looking to learn more about Child Trafficking and increase your education and response to this epidemic, contact our partners at Action Coalition on Human Trafficking (ACT) Alberta (www.actalberta.org) They have free programs that educate the public on the realities of human trafficking.