A teenage girl sitting on the floor pulling back her hair with both hands and looking scared and worrried.

Child trafficking is when young people are forced, persuaded or tricked to leave their homes and are then exploited, sold or forced to work. ​


Sometimes, children and young people are trafficked into Ireland from other countries. However, some children are trafficked within Ireland too. Victims of trafficking can be moved to a different country or are exploited in their own communities. 

Traffickers target potential victims by:


  • befriending children and young people online or in person
  • becoming friends with the victim’s family 
  • threatening you or your family 
  • promising that they will give you or your family a better life


Sometimes, traffickers can be a family member. Traffickers can work alone or sometimes they work with a larger group. 


Why does child trafficking happen?

Traffickers target children to exploit them. This means the children are forced or tricked into doing something they don’t want to do. Examples of things a child could be forced to do include:


  • work
  • have sex or perform sexual acts
  • beg, steal or commit crimes
  • marry someone
  • sell their organs
  • grow, smuggle or deal drugs


Traffickers and others who exploit children convince their victims that they are their friends, which allows them to manipulate them. This is called grooming. Traffickers can also use emotional, physical and sexual abuse to control children. 


Am I being exploited?

Signs of being exploited by a trafficker or another person include:


  • the trafficker giving you gifts before telling you that you owe them
  • the trafficker has control over your money and personal documents, like your passport or other forms of ID
  • blackmailing you using sexual images they have of you
  • threatening you or your family


How can I get help?

Realising that you have been trafficked and exploited can be confusing, especially if the person who exploited you does nice things for you. 

You might also be ashamed of what you were forced to do. However, no one should ever treat you like this and you have a right to escape. Help is available and you don’t have to deal with this on your own. 

Here are a few services that can offer you general advice and support:


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