Child trafficking in Europe: what is the paediatrician’s role?
Child trafficking is among the most lucrative criminal activities in the world and growing rapidly. Poverty, natural disasters, armed conflicts and, in particular, migration put vulnerable children at high risk of trafficking. Accurate statistics on child trafficking are not available due to its illegal nature. Moreover, trafficking may not be consistently recorded and reported by European countries, mainly because of different perceptions as to who is considered a victim of trafficking. Around 4000–5000 children were identified as presumed victims of trafficking in European Union countries from 2013 to 2014; this is an underestimate of the problem because many victims go unrecognised. Trafficking is linked with issues, such as forced marriage, begging, labour or domestic servitude, slavery and prostitution as well as sexual abuse and child pornography. It may also involve the use of children as soldiers or for criminal activities, such as theft and drug smuggling. Child trafficking also involves the removal of organs and the selling neonates, infants, and children for adoption. Child victims of trafficking should be promptly identified in order to provide them with the necessary care as well as to prosecute the traffickers and stop their illegal activity. Healthcare professionals should be appropriately trained to keep a careful eye out for any signs of trafficking in children.
What is Known:
• Child trafficking is a fast growing and among the most lucrative criminal activities in the world.
• Poverty, natural disasters, armed conflicts and in particular migration put vulnerable children at high risk of trafficking.
What is New:
• Child trafficking is an underestimated and often ignored issue, with around 4000–500children identified as presumed victims in European Union countries from 2013 to 2014.
• The European Academy of Paediatrics strongly encourages Paediatricians to identify victims as well as provide them with adequate health care and support; it calls on governments, intergovernmental organisations, and fellow compatriots to act within the full extent of the law to identify, disband, and prosecute child traffickers.
KeywordsEuropean Academy of Paediatrics Trafficking Child trafficking Migration Health care Advocacy
Adamos Hadjipanayis: Study conception, reviewing the literature and drafting the article.
Francis P. Crawley: Study conception and contributed to the initial draft and review.
Tom Stiris: Reviewed the manuscript.
David Neubauer: Reviewed the manuscript.
Pierre-André Michaud: Reviewed and restructured substantially the manuscript and gave important comments.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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