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Child Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation
Kenneth T. Saroka, East Brunswick (NJ) High School

OVERVIEW: Throughout the world, 250 million children are working to earn money for their families, 125 million work full time. Many work in the sex trades. The conditions under which they labor are often brutal --including the traffic of children for pornography and prostitution. The conditions under which these children work are brutal, and they have no way out, unless they risk death, yet they risk death from sexually transmitted diseases or violence from their handlers or customers.

CORE QUESTION: What economic conditions forced children to seek prostitution and pornography? Why do parents put their children up for collateral to repay debts? Are there ways out of it? Are there ways to stop it? Why has there been limited success in ending child sexual trafficking?

TIME REQUIRED: Two 40-minute period-- with homework and presentations that could extend the discussion into additional days.

SUGGESTED GRADE LEVELS: This lesson is useful for mature high school students in a World History or Global Issues classroom setting. The topic needs the seriousness to be effectively discussed, but please be aware that the topic may not be appropriate to be discussed in all settings.

INTERDISCIPLINARY CONNECTIONS: Visual arts when used in conjunction with the photo essay lessons on this site.

NEW JERSEY CORE CONTENT STANDARDS: 6.1: 10-13; 6.2: 9-11; 6.3: 9,12,14; 6.4: 9-13; 6.5 13-5; 6.6 13-15; 6.7: 11-12; 6.8: 12-17.

OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to describe the extent of the problem as the international community sees it; evaluate the analysis of the various international agencies and organizations; determine whether national sovereignty ("it's my country--you stay out of our affairs") is a valid answer to not allowing international agencies to monitor or remedy the problems. Students will be able to synthesize responses to the critical needs of developing countries that are troubled by child sexual trafficking problems.

STRATEGIES: A basic discussion of the issue of child labor should have been done prior to this...this is NOT a topic that you would want to lead with. PUSH and PULL factors are discussed.

Human Rights Watch offers first hand testimony and recommendations for action on specific international agreements and protocols. PROMISES BROKEN is a good start. International Labour Organization's report from their International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. Clicking the link will bring up Adobe Acrobat Reader (this is a PDF document). The document is 78 pages long--pages 24-26 of the document deal with the topic of sexual trafficking of children and can be printed out to provide the students the basic information to establish a foundation for discussion.

If you have access to a computer lab, have students access a database on sexual trafficking in various countries in the world. The database is managed by EPCAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes), an agency funded by the European Union and UNICEF. It displays economic statistics, information about that country's sexual trafficking of children, international agreements that the country has signed and is supposed to be following. Students would research a particular country and develop a presentation about it. This EPCAT page has a list for basic FAQs style documents.

REFERENCES: Agencies with an interest in eliminating the trafficking of children:

Human Rights Watch--they have several large country reports which can be gleaned for information on the subject....such as NEPAL.

Save the Children

International Labour Organization

An excellent documentary film, SACRIFICE, on Burmese women and children who are trafficked into Thailand for the sex trades. The film can be ordered at this web site. Then there is a statement by the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington on this issue.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has a list of agencies concerned with the issue.

ASSESSMENT: Country presentations (or cooperative regional presentations-since much of the trafficking of children for sex takes place within regions--suppliers and consumers) could be arranged.

A homework assignment based on the suggested questions above or additional questions that you add--can be in the form of an interpretive essay or a DBQ (Document-Based Question format for those familiar with the AP Exams). Since students are being asked to interpret, allow them the flexibility of coming up with ingenious solutions to the enforcement problems.

A quiz on the whole issue of children's rights (if you have used more than just this lesson) could be constructed.

A further enrichment exercise could be constructed to allow students to research other labor-related abuses in different countries around the world through a coordinated effort to use the resources of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Save the Children and other organizations. Classroom presentations could follow.


To learn more about the influence of Children's Rights on our global society, click on the links below:
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