Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, in particular girls, continues to be onthe rise despite growing efforts to fight it. During the pandemic we have seen that social mediaand other online platforms are increasingly being used to exploit girls online. The exploitation iseither taking place on the platforms themselves, or they are being used as a place of recruitmentfor exploitation taking place in person. Although the recruitment of children to trafficking andcommercial sexual exploitation is still more prevalent in challenging social economic areas andamongst vulnerable groups, many girls who become victims of exploitation do not particularlybelong to any risk group. Peer exploitation amongst school children is also increasingly beingreported across Europe.
To address this concerning trend, increased efforts focusing on prevention and addressing rootcauses of commercial sexual exploitation of children are therefore urgently needed. An importantstep of such prevention efforts is to ensure that all countries across Europe increase protectionand empowerment of girls by ensuring that their education systems for children include moduleson trafficking and sexual exploitation of children online and offline, as well as on healthyrelationships, children’s understanding of sexual consent and equality between genders.
Child10 and the Child10 Awarded Member Organizations for 2021 are working across Europe toprevent and protect children from trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children. Ourcollective experience has shown that European countries and governments differ widely in boththe understanding of the need for such educational modules, and in how to effectively integratesuch models in the various educational systems.
On the EU Anti-Trafficking Day, Child10 and the 2021 Awarded Members jointly call for theurgent need to implement compulsory educational modules for all children on trafficking andsexual exploitation of children online and offline, as well as on healthy relationships,children’s understanding of sexual consent and equality between genders in all countriesacross Europe.
European governments must now urgently act and implement such educational modules inline with a child-rights based approach and in collaboration with civil society organizationswho have invaluable knowledge and experience in this field. Only by working together canwe eradicate trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children.