What is child trafficking?

Child trafficking is defined in the United Nations Palermo Protocol as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt” of a child for the purpose of exploitation.  

The definition of child trafficking differs slightly from that of adults, which requires an extra stage for trafficking to be present – that of the Means, “of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person.” The Means stage is not required for the definition of child trafficking. This is not to say that this stage does not occur for child victims, but the definition recognises that a child cannot give informed consent to his or her own exploitation, even if he or she agrees to travel or understands what has happened.

How is a child defined? 

A child is defined by the Palermo Protocol and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as any person under the age of 18.

How is a separated child defined?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a separated child as “a child who has been separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary caregiver, but not necessarily from other relatives. This may, therefore, include a child accompanied by other adult family members”. 

How is an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child (UASC) defined?

The Department for Education’s Statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children defines anunaccompanied asylum-seeking child as a “child who is applying for asylum in their own right and is separated from both parents and is not being cared for by an adult who in law or by custom has responsibility to do so”.

How is an unaccompanied child defined?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines an unaccompanied child as a “child who has been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so”.