Federal legislation defining the child welfare system’s response to human trafficking does not address labor trafficking of children. Yet the National Human Trafficking Hotline consistently identifies potential cases of labor trafficking involving children under age 18 within the United States. This paper uses administrative data to describe the number and characteristics of children with allegations of labor trafficking investigated by a state child welfare agency. Analyses are based on more than 6,000 allegations of labor or sex trafficking involving nearly 5,000 children between 2013 and 2017. Labor trafficking allegations comprised 9% of all human trafficking investigations, and were more likely than sex trafficking allegations to be verified following investigation. Children with labor trafficking allegations were younger, nine times more likely to be male, less than half as likely to have prior child welfare involvement, and half as likely to have subsequent child welfare involvement, compared to children with sex trafficking allegations. Findings suggest opportunities for research and practice to address labor trafficking of children, and the need for continued efforts to identify its occurrence in order to better prevent and alleviate victimization.
Child labor trafficking within the US
A first look at allegations investigated by Florida’s Child Welfare Agency