27 November 2014
Maybe you watch the news or follow stories on Twitter or Facebook, if so you’ve probably heard the phrases ‘child trafficking’ and ‘sexual abuse’ quite a bit over the last few years.
Though a lot of the time these news stories are talking about women and children brought to the UK from other countries, there are more and more cases of young British people being caught up in trafficking and taken advantage of by gangs and individuals.
The best way to keep yourself safe and out of harm’s way is to learn a bit more about trafficking and sexual exploitation. That way, if you or any of your friends are at risk, you’ll be able to spot the warning signs and do something about it.
What is trafficking?
Human trafficking refers to anyone who is moved about by a gang or a more dominant individual for the purpose of forced labour.
This might mean that women and children are forced to work in factories, as maids in people’s homes, as sex workers or are made to trade sexual favours for money or drugs for the people controlling them.
Some children are even moved around so that the people looking after them can claim more child benefits from the government.
How do you know if someone is being trafficked?
In the last few years, the number of young people in the UK who have been trafficked has gone up a lot, rising 173% between 2012 and 2013 alone.
This means that the chances someone you know will become a victim of trafficking has gone up, so it’s more important than ever to know the warning signs and watch out for them.
There are lots of different types of people that can be behind trafficking, young or old, men or women and it’s not necessarily just older men as you might imagine. So, it’s important to watch out for anyone who is paying you or your friends more attention than usual.
Individuals and gangs often start by giving presents and offering free drinks as a way to get to know you. Once they have their victim’s trust, they may move them to another part of the country, away from all of their friends and family.
By this point, most young people are completely reliant on the gang or individual controlling them and can find it very hard to get away or ask for help.
If you know someone who started hanging around with a gang or group of new adults and has suddenly moved away, there’s a chance that they have become a victim of trafficking.
What should you do if you think someone is being trafficked?
The most important thing to do if you think someone has been trafficked, or is at risk of being trafficked, is to tell someone. Whether it’s a teacher, parent or friend, or of course you can call us on our confidential helpline 0808 800 1037 or use our live chat function that can be found at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. Telling someone about it is the best way to get the help you need.
There are lots of groups and resources online that can help, so don’t be afraid to speak to us if you’re worried that a friend, relative or even you yourself are at risk of trafficking.