Human trafficking tactics steadily growing online

Youth advocacy groups in Canada are raising awareness of the reality of human trafficking and how easily children and young people can become victims in the digital age.

Human trafficking can target people of all ages for a variety of reasons, but the most common form in Canada is sexual exploitation, especially among young women and girls.according to statistics canada25% of victims are under the age of 17.

Exploitation may include threats of violence, threats of the use of force, and sexual assault against victims and their families.

Nora Constas, president and CEO of the Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Center (CYAC), said many factors contributed to the increase in trafficking among young people, but the growth of social media was especially important after the pandemic. said to play a role.

According to Constas, the constant growth of social media has created several ways for predators to easily access and lure children. During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, our reliance on social media increased. Many young people have been cut off from face-to-face socializing and have had to rely on social networks to connect with friends. According to Constas, this is what predators still exploit today.

“The predator immediately noticed that [this] It’s a great way to lure and groom young children and young people into situations where they could be victims of human trafficking,” Constas told in a telephone interview Monday.

She explains that by hiding behind a phone or computer screen, a predator can pretend to be another person or child to befriend another child and gain their trust.

Features in some apps have also made it easier for predators to leave no trace of conversations with minors. for example, snapchatA message disappearing feature that instantly deletes your conversation history.

In 2020, The United Nations called for social networks Send a message to businesses to add features that reduce the risk of young women and girls being trafficked and sexually exploited. It also asked these companies to use the data to crack down on and identify human traffickers.

Constas said these companies need to be more proactive in their anti-trafficking efforts by providing restrictions to protect the most vulnerable without penalizing regular users. rice field.

“While I recognize the balance of free speech, protecting our most vulnerable people is a top priority, and whether you’re a policy maker or a government, you can make a statement on social media platforms. Regardless of whether or not there is one, I think it should be given top priority.

The UN also noted that governments need to provide more education and employment opportunities for young women and girls. Systemic issues such as gender discrimination and socioeconomic injustice can push them into situations they feel compelled to accept. to survive.

Traffickers often use fear to manipulate victims, such as by threatening to publish confidential photos of victims online, so parents and guardians can build trust with children and encourage children to seek help. Constas says it’s important not to be afraid to ask.

“Children are in a predicament where fear is the ultimate tactic,” she said. “That trusting relationship will be the best way to have meaningful conversations with children and young people and feel comfortable and safe enough to share information.”

Several trafficking signs Children and teens may be disheveled, dressed in tight clothing, and may have bruises or tattoos on their bodies. They may also appear fearful, anxious, and avoid eye contact. Additionally, if they are with an adult, the adult may speak extensively for them in a dominant manner.

How to get help if you or someone you know is being trafficked.

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