Child Sex Trafficking
An International Threat to the Wellness of Children
Mary C. Burke, Ph.D.
Children are our hope. They are the inspiration for much of the humanitarian work in
which many around the world are involved. Threats to the well-being of children are
numerous. In addition to many living in less than stable familial environments, children
today are continually forced to face the symptoms of a conflict-ridden society, regardless
of their country of origin.
Creating an environment that extends beyond safety and includes meeting their
basic need for food, love, and nurturing continues to be a goal. This must remain a goal
as children and the women who care for them remain the most vulnerable to mistreatment
and neglect in even the most economically advantaged countries. What follows is a short
overview of the status of children worldwide with regard to safety and well-being,
information about human trafficking, and recommendations for citizen involvement in
prevention of the sex trafficking of children.
Integral to the healthy physical and psychological development of children, is that
their basic needs are consistently met. Research demonstrates that in addition to physical
needs, such as safety, food, shelter and access to medical care, children’s psychological
wellness is contingent on the nature of relationship with those primarily responsible for
their care. Specifically, beginning at birth, the relationship must be characterized by
security and uninterrupted attachment with their primary caregivers as this plays a
significant role in healthy development into adulthood.
In spite of the focus on issues related to children, the number of children whose
basic physical needs are not met and whose attachment to primary caregivers is at risk,
remains a worldwide problem. The number of children who continue to live in poverty
and without sufficient nutritional sustenance is alarmingly significant. According to a
recent report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund