Human Trafficking: Global Phenomena. Domestic Concern.

Human Trafficking: Global Phenomena. Domestic Concern.

Over the last several years, the topic of human trafficking – or modern day slavery as many advocates call it – has captured the attention and pulled on the heart strings of the American public. U.S. citizens became indignant as they realized that slavery, something they thought fixed a century ago, was still growing in the world. Since then, countless organizations, advocacy campaigns, and fundraisers have been created to help the victims of global trafficking, especially the women and girls trafficked in our country.

Unfortunately, many people still don’t know that these same horror stories happen in their state, their county, their city. Recent reports cite that American born girls and boys are just as likely to be trafficked domestically as immigrant children. Amy Fine Collin recently wrote a story for Vanity Fair on domestic sex trafficking about two trafficked American girls, Gwen and Alicia, and the police officers, lawyers, social workers, and doctors who helped free them. “A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a “righteous” pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings,” Collin writes. This is an American reality, one that unfortunately is targeting younger and younger children.

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Universal Children’s Day

Picture in your mind, if you will the last image you saw of a child. What was that image, sad or happy? What did the picture make you want to do? What memories did it trigger for you? Perhaps the picture was of a happy child.

Now think of the last picture you saw of a child from a different country. What does that bring to mind? Maybe, it’s a picture of a starving child or children that have witnessed or experienced violence through trafficking, disease, war, and exploitation.

Is that picture of the American child completely true? Are all of our nation’s children always happy, healthy, and vibrant? Or, do some of them really mirror those of children from abroad?

Keeping this thought in mind, the Safe Start Center would like to highlight a very important awareness day. On December 14, 1954 the United Nations General Assembly declared the observance of a Universal Children’s Day. November 20th was inaugurated as the official day because of the adoption of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child, commemorating the importance of children’s welfare as a worldwide truth. Though the United States was an active participant in the writing of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it has not yet been able to ratify it, but many American programs like Safe Start are working to promote the importance of protecting children and their welfare. When writing the We the Children: End-decade review of the follow-up to the World Summit for Children Report of the Secretary-General (2001) it quotes a phrase at the heart of the declaration:

“We were all children once. And we all share the desire for the well-being of our children, which has always been and will continue to be the most universally cherished aspiration of humankind.”

While promotion of children’s welfare is happening across the nation, the state of America’s children is still grim. According to a recent report from the BBC America, America’s Child Death Shame, a picture of a perfectly happy American child is not an accurate one. The report highlights that every five hours a child dies from abuse or neglect in the United States. The importance of understanding that children are at risk is also emphasized by Polyvictimization: Children’s Exposure to Multiple Types of Violence, Crime, and Abuse, a new study by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) that describes polyvictimization,  victimization through exposure to many kinds of violence. It tells us that at minimum, 1 in 10 children are exposed to violence in their lifetime, and once a child has been exposed, they are at higher risk of being repeat victims. Most important of all, it repeats that this variety of exposure is far more harmful than multiple exposures from a single source.

The Safe Start Center’s mission is directly targeted toward the ideas promoted by the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. We do so through the promotion of awareness and prevention of both polyvictimization and overall exposure to violence in children and their families. We work to support the work of clinicians, advocates, communities, and caregivers to help raise awareness about the importance of children as the future and their right to a high quality of life. We have a variety of resources available to help caregivers, practitioners, and the public tackle the problem of violence at home, in schools, and the community. Just a few of these resources are:

The Safe Start Center Trauma Informed Care Tipsheets

These resources provides tips and insight for how parents & caregivers, child welfare staff, early childhood providers, men & fathers, domestic violence and homeless shelters, teachers, and agencies working with immigrant families can identify and care for children and youth exposed to a single or multiple types of violence.

Resources for Families and Caregivers

This page also gives a variety of online resources and websites that can help parents and caregivers better understand their children, their mental health, and how to help them cope with any new situations they might face.

Online Resources for Teens and Young Adults

The above page is targeted toward youth, providing online resources and books that raise awareness about the dangers of violence and tips for safety in school or in dating.

So, today on Universal Children’s Day, we need to remember each child across our nation who is exposed to hurt and violence. So please join us at the Safe Start Center by renewing the commitment to working to ensure that all children have the chance grow up safely and without fear.

Photo Credits:

30937aza3qkjeac Michal Marcol.jpg

5513436ygksa7y5 SteveMiles.jpg

Flowergirl earlyadvantage.jpg

Sad child2 Stuart Miles.jpg

Sad child Arvid Balaraman.jpg

Children exposed to violence is a global epidemic

Tanzania report reveals extent of violence against children

This post from the UK Guardian Poverty Matters Blog, discusses a new breakthrough study conducted in Tanzania and put out by the Muhimbili University in Dar es Salaam and the CDC. Study findings note that close to 75% of all children had been exposed to some type of violence before reaching adulthood. In addition, the researchers note that reports show that violence exposure in childhood can cause numerous social and emotional problems for the rest of the child’s development.

The outcomes of the Tanzanian study also parallel the findings of the National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence (NATSCEV) and The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study which also reiterate that children coming into contact with violence and trauma may experience long-term detrimental  effects, sometimes in spite of their natural resilience. The NATSCEV in particular notes that, “All too often, however, children who are exposed to violence undergo lasting physical, mental, and emotional harm. They suffer from difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, anxiety and depression, and aggression and conduct problems. They may be more prone to dating violence, delinquency, further victimization, and involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems” (NATSCEV 2).

Finally, several nations are working to address children’s exposure to violence through studies and legislation. In early 2008, Swaziland was the first African country to conduct a survey of the level of violence exposure of women and children. More recently, in June 2011, in Australia a study was released reiterating that the idea, that children exposed to domestic violence are experiencing a form of child abuse, is becoming a more widely accepted thought. Also, early this month Tanzania committed itself to strengthening laws against violence exposure.

Witnessing or directly experiencing violence, especially children, is becoming a widely recognized problem on the international level. Cultural and emotional barriers exist all over the world which inhibit the recognition and treatment of the effects of this exposure, particularly the mental and emotional health of the survivor. This new study demonstrates the ongoing breakdown of the taboos that surround discussion and treatment of this issue. Such progress is the first step in increasing awareness and supporting prevention, and creating a more trauma-informed global society.

Other Related Studies and Links:

Safe Start Center

Research Studies and Reports

UNICEF United Republic of Tanzania

 Violence Against Children: United Nations Secretary-General’s Study

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Violence Against Children and Young Women in Swaziland

A Brief from UNICEF Swaziland




Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence Against Children Praises Tanzania’s work pioneering work in data and research on violence against children!













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