4 Steps to End Child Trafficking and 3 Options for What to Do with Rescued Children
For children in immediate danger of being trafficked, and for those at risk of it because of some of the factors listed in Part 1 of this article, someone needs to take them in and protect them. Someone has to be out there watching and waiting. It’s hard, because most human trafficking happens behind closed doors.
The Women’s Protection Center in Nepal has been a growing presence in the community for many years. Our reputation stretches well beyond Hetauda into the surrounding rural areas. People know us, and they know what we do.
This is the first of four keys to stopping child trafficking: Be known.
4 Steps to Stop Child Trafficking
1. Be Known as a Refuge for Vulnerable Children
WPC Nepal in Hetauda partners with the local government in rescuing children. The government doesn’t have the resources to do this alone. We have a proven track record, and people trust us. This is vital, because step two won’t happen if you don’t have a reputation of commitment to children.
2. Inspire Neighbors and Allies to Report About At-Risk Children
This happens to us a lot. It’s one the main ways we find new children to bring into our safe home (which can now hold up to 60).
Here’s an example of how people in the community can be mobilized to stop child trafficking:
A neighbor sees a child being abused or neglected by her parents or relatives. That neighbor knows about WPC Nepal, and tells us what they’ve seen and heard. We go out and see if there’s a way we can help. If we can, we take action on the child’s behalf.
No one can have eyes and ears everywhere. But when the community takes ownership for protecting kids – even ones who don’t belong to them – more and more will be saved from child trafficking.
3. Raise Awareness about Child Trafficking
The people most at risk are the ones who must be empowered to stop child trafficking. If a parent rejects their child and wants to sell them, we need neighbors and allies to see what’s happening and stop it.
But if loving parents are going to protect their own kids, they need to know what trafficking is and how it happens. They need to learn to identify a deceptive ploy being pitched to them to send their kids somewhere. They must be shown how to tell the difference between a real opportunity and a false promise.
This is why WPC Nepal has created a human trafficking awareness program. We take it to schools, community centers, and pretty much anyone we can reach, and empower them to protect themselves and their children.
Rescuing kids in immediate danger is important. But for that ground-shifting social change mentioned in Part 1, the whole nation needs to start seeing things for what they are. Poverty crushes the soul. Lack of education cripples the future. But losing your kids forever in a foreign land – nothing can be worse.
4. Station Outposts to Catch Kids Being Trafficked
WPC Nepal has one of these in India, and we have rescued many kids and women through this program. Other organizations also put a high priority on this step and we fully support their efforts.
We also counsel adults who want to work abroad about the risks and warning signs of trafficking. About 200 people per month learn how to migrate safely. Here’s a story of one woman who was saved from being trafficked because of this program – and what she did to the people who tried to traffic her.
What to Do Once a Child Is Rescued from Trafficking
This is where things get complicated. We all want to save them. But what do we do once we’ve stopped a child from being trafficked?
Too often, their home is the last place to send them. If their own parents are the ones who sold them, you can’t send them back there. Likewise, if their home situation was marked by abuse, neglect, or abandonment – all of which are common in Nepal – sending them back home will only re-introduce the child to the very risks we’re trying to save them from.
Here’s the 3-step approach – in this order – that WPC Nepal uses with children we rescue from being trafficked.
1. Find Relatives To Care For Them
Children should always be placed with family whenever possible. We look for their parents or other relatives. Sometimes, parents and relatives are honest about their inability to care for their kids and ask us to take them. But whenever possible, we send them home.
2. Bring Them to a Safe Home
WPC Nepal was built for this very purpose. Some kids literally – in every sense of that word – have nowhere else to go. If not for the 5-story, 20-bedroom home, they’d be on the streets or worse.
The kids get regular meals (sometimes for the first time in their lives), committed house parents, sanitation, clean water – everything they need to grow up safe and secure. And lastly…
3. Put Them In School
Education – especially of girls – is the single greatest weapon to produce that ground-shifting social change talked about in Part 1. Every child in the WPC Nepal safe home gets sent to a local private school.
We’ve taken in kids with very little schooling and helped them get back up to speed. We provide tutoring to give them extra support. Our founder Lila Ghising didn’t go to school until age 12. She now has a Masters’ degree. Without her own education, WPC Nepal wouldn’t exist. She knows that education is the only way to produce long term transformation.
Change is happening.
If you want to stop child trafficking, the first step is to get specific. Choose a place. You could start with Nepal. You could choose a different country – including your own. But pick a place, because stopping trafficking can’t be done without entering into that community.
And then apply the three things you just learned in this 2-part series:
Understand what causes it.
Become a respected force against it in the community.
Give kids you rescue everything they need to permanently escape it