Marc Klaas (President & Founder, KlaasKids Foundation) gives expert video advice on: How are children coerced into becoming victims of human trafficking? and more...
What is "human trafficking"?
Human trafficking is probably the new version of America's dirty little secret. Human trafficking is generally, taking a woman or children and exploiting them sexually against their wishes. This does differ from prostitution. Prostitution tends to be a voluntary activity or at least one would hope it is. So, this human trafficking then becomes about takingindividuals against their will and forcing them into sexual situations. Often, it will involve transporting these women and children from one location to another, and this includes international travel. I think the best and widest known example of human trafficking occurs in Thailand. We've all heard stories about men going to Thailand to have sex with little kids. Well you can also go to Tijuana and do that. In fact, in many communities around the country, what we're finding out, and this is just barely scratching the surface of this issue, is that a lot of young teenage runaway girls are forced into these situations against their will. And there are absolutely no resources available to help these kids because the reality is that they're treated as criminals, when in fact they're really victims.
How are children coerced into becoming victims of human trafficking?
They're coerced by, I guess for want of better terminology, pimps. You know 14-year old girls, young girls are very vulnerable and they don't really know the way of the world, and they don't really know the way of themselves. So, it becomes really easy to exploit those kids, to tell them that you love them, or to tell them that you'll take care of them or to tell whatever you need to tell them to get them into a situation where you can then exploit them. You can get them hooked on alcohol, you can get them hooked on drugs, it's not very difficult to do that. You then have a hook to be able to force them then to earn their own keep through prostitution . It's insiduous, terrible stuff. But it's something that we're only starting to learn a little bit about and the more you uncover, like it was with the internet a few years ago, the worse the story looks.
How can human trafficking be stopped?
Human trafficking is a safety issue, and this is an issue that government has to step up and take charge and take command of. They first of all have to define the issue, and once the issue has been defined, they have to start providing resources that will number one; educate the public about the problem, number two; understand that the victims or the people involved in this, the young people involved in this, are not criminals but victims, and then finally to be able to provide services for these young girls (generally they do tend to be young girls), so that they are able to get their lives back on track and hopefully move forward productively, as opposed to being stuck in the morass of drugs and prostitution for the rest of their lives, which probably won't be very long lives given the problems that are inherent in those populations.