Europol report confirmed that an increasing number of children are being trafficked throughout the EU

Published On September 18, 2019 | By Children Screaming To Be Heard |


Children across Europe are trafficked for a variety of criminal and exploitation purposes. They are trafficked within
their countries and within and across the EU. Trafficking hinders the development of children and damages them permanently. Trafficked children are excluded from education, health and a safe and protective environment.

Full Report.

This study is a deliverable of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016, which recognised that vulnerable groups, such as children, are at greater risk of human trafficking.

The Study on high-risk groups for trafficking in human beings looked at risk and resilience factors that influence the likelihood of children becoming victims of THB, with a view to establishing risk profiles and developing recommendations for improvements in policies in the EU and Member States (MS). The Study was prepared by collecting information in all Member States from key informants and through desk research.

The uniqueness of this study lies in its focus on the concrete experience of children and practitioners in EU Member States. The Study places the experience of children in the centre of the analysis and based on this further elaborates on typologies of child trafficking as well as risk and resilience factors. The Study does not address in detail the issue of demand, but focuses on  factors that render children vulnerable. That is to say that vulnerabilities per se do not cause or result in trafficking in human beings.

Trafficking in human beings is a demand-driven and profit-driven crime, as well as a grave human rights violation. Trafficking in human beings is about demand for services of victims and goods produced through their
exploitation, and it is about profits. Risk factors render people, and in particular children, vulnerable to victimisation.

Key features of child trafficking in EU Member States Data: In the period 2010-2012, 16 % of the total number of registered victims of trafficking of human beings were below the age of 18, 13 % girls and 3 % boys. Of the registered victims 2 % were aged 0-11, 17 % were registered as aged 12-17, 36 % were registered as aged 18-24 and 45 % were aged 25 or older (1).

The systematic and comprehensive collection of data on trafficking in general and children in particular requires further improvement, especially related to comparable data. Reasons for this lack of comparable data are amongst others the absence of standardised guidelines for data collection at EU level (2),

the lack of detection of child trafficking in combination with the under-reporting of such incidents, and the large number of organisations involved,  each recording data related to their own responsibility. Law enforcement often focuses on visible criminal activities such as property crime and shoplifting and less on the potential trafficking case behind this. Also the interpretation of concepts differs strongly, causing strong variations in statistics (3).

To this effect, a Europol report confirmed that an increasing number of children are being trafficked throughout the EU (4).

Recruitment: Regarding recruitment mechanisms, increases and changing tactics in the practice of grooming were observed in some Member States. Perpetrators were reported to have moved away from an approach based on predominantly exercising physical violence, towards an approach of exploiting the weaknesses and dependent attitudes of their victims. An increase was also noted in the reported incidence of possible sexual exploitation or abuse via social networking sites.

A number of interviewed stakeholders noted that the ongoing deinstitutionalisation care in many
countries has led to traffickers reorientating themselves to schools as a main source of recruitment of possible victims.

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