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Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Child Labor Trafficking

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2016
13 pages

After discussing the definition of "child labor trafficking," this overview addresses its scope, victim characteristics, anti-trafficking legislation, the theoretical foundation for viewing child labor trafficking, outcomes for countermeasures, and recommendations.


Child labor trafficking can have many of the same components as child labor and labor exploitation; however, it is considered "labor trafficking" only if coercion is present (e.g., forcing a child to work by threatening harm). Regarding the scope of child labor trafficking in the United States, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that between 2008 and 2010, there were 257 reported cases of child trafficking in the United States. Of these, 248 involved sex trafficking, and 5 involved labor trafficking. Data from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center indicated that 15.8 percent of their labor trafficking cases in 2015 involved victims who were minors. Regarding victim characteristics, they have diverse sociodemographic backgrounds, and there is no standard typology; however, certain populations are more vulnerable to becoming victims. They include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth; runaway and homeless youth; and child welfare populations. Regarding legislation to counter child labor trafficking, at the Federal level the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) prohibits forced labor. The majority of relevant State laws mention some form of labor trafficking or involuntary servitude, and various international legislation that addresses child labor trafficking has been ratified by the United States. Regarding the theoretical foundation, child victims of labor trafficking have been viewed mostly as persons who need rehabilitation, even when their forced labor includes criminal activity. Regarding the limited number of evaluation studies on outcomes of countermeasures for child labor trafficking, they indicate the need for better training of those involved in framing and executing countermeasures. 52 references

Date Published: December 1, 2016