Child Trafficking: The UK’s 5 Common Myths

Even in today’s world, child trafficking is still a huge problem in the UK. That’s why dispelling common myths around child trafficking is vital.

As is knowing what’s happening within your own community. As trafficking can often be invisible, and it can be hard to accept it is happening on your own doorstep.

Especially, if you find the truth surprising or shocking.

As an organisation Love146 UK have made a commitment to local communities here in UK, to help to educate our partners, local authorities and you, on the reality of child trafficking.

So, we want to share with you five shocking things we commonly hear about child trafficking in the UK:

1. “THEY’RE LUCKY TO HAVE BEEN TRAFFICKED INTO THE UK”

It’s true that many of the young people we work with came from political, social, and economic turmoil in their home countries.

But let’s be clear: There is no silver lining to being trafficked.

In fact, most of them are quite homesick. They miss their mum, their dad and brothers and sisters. Also, their language, culture, and food.

And certainly don’t consider themselves lucky to have been tricked or forced into exploitation. So, why should we?

2. “THESE YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TO BE LOCKED UP IN PRISON TO BE SAFEGUARDED.”

Although prison will keep them from going missing it will not keep them safe from traffickers. If children have been coerced and controlled, they are not going to feel any better to be locked in a cell.

These children are not criminals, they are victims of a crime.

That’s why we believe that the best place for a child in the aftermath of abuse is in a home. And that’s where our work comes in.

We train foster care providers to recognise and respond to the needs of trafficked and exploited children.

Young people may still be in contact with their traffickers. They may try to run away, or even attempt suicide.

The carers who receive our training learns how to keep them safe by using the immediate safety plan, and they convey compassion while also protecting the child.

As long as children are safe, it’s best for them to be in a place where they can also feel free.

3. “THEY’RE NOT OURS ARE THEY? THEY’RE NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY, RIGHT?”

They are children, they’re here, and it is everyone’s responsibility to protect them.

There’s an attitude we’ve seen that the young people Love146 UK works with are first and foremost immigrants, here in the UK, but are not “ours.”

These are children first — unable to consent to being in the situation they find themselves in.

If a baby showed up on your doorstep, you would take care of them, and alert those who might be able to help. Without question!

So, why should we have a different attitude towards vulnerable children and young people who we know are new to the UK?

It doesn’t matter how the children got here. They have needs, they’re at risk, and once in the UK they are our children and we have to think of them as our children.

4. “THIS CHILD IS A CRIMINAL.”

A common story you may of heard before;

A boy is forced to work in a cannabis factory. But he escapes from this exploitation and is placed in safe accommodation.

This sounds hopeful, but alas….

It is quite common for the young people we work with to be prosecuted for the criminal activity. An activity that they committed while they were under the control of their traffickers. So. they may end up with a criminal record.

It’s very sad that they are sometimes treated as perpetrators and not victims.

This is one reason we need to raise awareness about trafficking. Survivors should not be punished for crimes that they were forced to commit while being exploited and controlled by their traffickers.

5. “WHY NOT JUST PUT THEM IN REGULAR FOSTER HOMES?”

It’s true that the UK is full of wonderful foster carers who are ready to provide accommodation and support to children at a moment’s notice.

But young people who have been trafficked arrive with unique risks and needs that not every family is trained to handle.

If they are not placed with people who understand the issues around trafficking, immediate safeguarding and safety planning, sadly, there is a strong possibility that they will go missing.

We ensure that care providers are prepared for anything that might happen.

After everything they’ve been through, trafficking victims deserve to be in a place where their unique needs can be understood and provided for, so more specialised care is essential.

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