Child Trafficking & Modern Slavery

Child trafficking and modern slavery are forms of child abuse. Trafficking involves children and young people being tricked or forced into leaving their homes and being moved or transported to another place to be exploited, forced to work, or sold as property.

Children and young people are trafficked into the UK from other countries (e.g. Albania, Romania, Vietnam), and are also trafficked from around the UK. Children are trafficked for:

  • Working on cannabis farms or transporting drugs
  • Committing crimes
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Forced marriage
  • Benefit fraud
  • Domestic servitude (i.e. cleaning, cooking, childcare)
  • Forced labour in factories or agriculture

Boys and girls of all ages can be victims of trafficking and modern slavery, and experience multiple forms of abuse. Traffickers use physical, sexual and emotional violence to control victims, and children are also likely to be physically and emotionally neglected.

Traffickers often groom children and families to gain their trust. Grooming involves building a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with the child or young person so that they can be taken advantage of and exploited. The forms of relationship a groomer can build includes romantic relationships, mentorships, and relationships can be built via social media, messaging apps, on games and apps, or in person. A groomer will often give the child or young person a lot of attention, gifts, and take them on trips/outings or holidays. They may also threaten the child/family to gain control. Sometimes families might be asked for payments for a ‘service’, such as organising the child’s documentation prior to travel. Often the profit that the trafficker makes from exploiting the child will be explained as a way for a child to pay off a debt they/their family ‘owe’ to the traffickers.

Traffickers may work alone or in groups, and can work on a smaller-scale, recruiting, moving, and exploiting children from areas they know and live in, or can work as part of a large criminal network that is involved with high-level corruption, money-laundering, and a large number of trafficking and modern slavery victims.

Effects of Child Trafficking Modern Slavery

Trafficking and modern slavery can have short- and long-term effects, including:

  • Confusion and guilt over criminal or sexual activity they have been involved in
  • Distress and alienation, particularly if the child has been separated from their family
  • Deprivation of education and socialisation
  • Physical injuries
  • Developmental problems as a result of neglect and living in poor conditions
  • Mental health issues
  • High risk of prolonged periods of sexual violence, resulting in physical injuries, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancies
  • Self-harm and attempts at suicide

Find out how to spot the signs of child trafficking and human slavery here.

Click here for NSPCC’s information and guidance on child trafficking.

Click here for the Pan Sussex Procedure on Child Trafficking and Modern Slavery.


If you are concerned about a child, please contact Front Door For Families on 01273 290400, FrontDoorForFamilies@brighton-hove.gov.uk, or use their Online Referral Form.

If a child is in immediate danger,
you should contact the
police by calling 999.