Human Trafficking and Child Welfare

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Child victims of human trafficking are more likely to suffer from long term affects rather than adults due to the critic stages of development they may be going through. As time persists after the abuse occurred, strong defensive emotions, like anger and fear, can be associated within relationships the individual has that have no correlation to the abusive event (McCammon, McCammon, & Ramby, 2006). Children who have been abused or trafficked can begin to develop a sense of hypervigilance in order to protect themselves from any threats.

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This defense mechanism can make it very difficult to create relationships with people in their life. The more hypervigilance is practiced, the more it will feel like a normality and more likely the behavior will be displayed throughout their entire life (McCammon, McCammon, & Ramby, 2006).

Controlling and showing certain emotions at inappropriate times, like laughing at a funeral, can be a common occurrence among children in this population. Withdrawing from social situations is another defensive reaction adolescences may display because of a low sense of self-worth and confidence. If a child was trafficked, sexually assaulted, or betrayed by someone they hold in high regards, like a family member, can experience greater emotional turmoil (McCammon, McCammon, & Ramby, 2006). Victims from poorer countries are commonly sold into the trafficking industry as children because of family debts, which puts them at a higher risk for developmental complications. Those who are trafficked in third world countries are less likely to escape their captors and receive treatment for their trauma. The act of betrayal can further promote low self-worth, feelings of resentment, and difficulty forming meaningful relationships. (McCammon, McCammon, & Ramby, 2006). The emotional and behavior effects resulting from trafficking are often long term and will influence one’s development through life.

The brains of children who have been sexually violated will often transition into puberty much sooner than those who have not been abused. High stress situations, like captivity and constant sexual assault, can signal the brain to create sex hormones, like estrogen or testosterone (McCammon, McCammon, & Ramby, 2006). This change in brain chemistry can promote the development of breast and ovaries along with the start of menstruation in females. Early entry in to puberty can lead to depression, risky sexual behaviors, and teenage pregnancy. All of these are shared effects of human trafficking and can then increase the severity of them.

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Human Trafficking and Child Welfare. (2019, Oct 15). Retrieved from