Do’s and Don’ts When Discussing Child Trafficking

Do’s and Don’ts When Discussing Child Trafficking

Don’t Say Instead Say Why?
Child / teen prostitute Trafficking survivor Child and teen prostitutes don’t exist – what exist are victims and survivors of trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Referring to survivors as young prostitutes implies that a delinquent youth chose a criminal lifestyle, as opposed to the reality which is that a minor is a victim of a sex crime.

Victim Survivor No one wants to be a victim. Calling people survivor empowers them by recognizing their resiliency to overcome extreme hardship and trauma.
We rescue victims. Survivors need supportive providers as they leave their situations on their own terms and in a way that is safe for them. People cannot be rescued – they can be empowered. Much like survivors of domestic violence, survivors of human trafficking need to be informed of what services are available to support them, and what exactly each service provides. If we force a “rescue” the person will run back to the trafficker as soon as they are able.
That’s so awful, I can’t/don’t believe it! I believe you and it’s not your fault. Well-meaning people might say they can’t believe something happened not because they are expressing disbelief but because they are surprised or horrified. This conveys to survivors that 1) they are not believed and 2) their experience is so shameful they can’t talk about it or shouldn’t seek help.
You/they don’t have to do that anymore. What happened to you wasn’t your fault. Stating that someone doesn’t need to do something anymore implies that the survivor consented to be trafficked.
But s/he/ you is/are so smart! You had to do X – did you know that’s a skill? You could do Y!

  • “Even though your trafficker should never have forced you to cook drugs you learned chemistry. Did you know you could be a chemist and work on [XYZ]? Here is a program where you can learn more about chemistry and how you can use it in school and at work.”
Saying that a survivor is smart (or has another positive attribute) might seem like a compliment. It can be very frustrating for a survivor to hear nice things about them without support to use that asset to better their life. Instead of saying a compliment explain how the asset can be used to help the survivor in actionable terms.

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