Nothing causes more pain to parents than having their little ones missing due to child trafficking. No parent should have to endure such emotional distress. But here we are; criminals are all over looking for ways to oppress the helpless, often raking billions of dollars annually in illegitimate profits.
Luckily, thanks to progressive technologies like big data, IoT, and analytics, we could soon see an end to all these. Researchers and data experts can leverage these technologies to understand the child trafficking cycle, hence informing law enforcement accordingly. Like most other businesses in today’s digital era, traffickers rely on the internet (marketing and communication) to keep a steady demand and supply cycle.
In other words, child trafficking is typically a supply chain where traffickers use a network to conduct their illicit business. While doing so, they leave a data trail, no matter how discretely they try to make their moves. And that’s where technology comes in. Curious to learn how technology can combat child trafficking? Let’s jump right in!
Anti-Child Trafficking Technology-Based Solutions
Child trafficking takes many forms. Including trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation, forced criminal activities, begging on the streets, forced early marriages, children as child soldiers, and organ removal. This section expounds on some of the technology tools to stop these child trafficking actions. Let’s go!
Tool #1. Victim/Trafficker Identification
Target User: Law enforcement officers
Law enforcers mostly use the victim or trafficker identification tool to track and identify child trafficking victims and traffickers. They can also be used by community members, NGOs, actual victims, and potential victims to rescue and report child trafficking incidences.
So the big question is, how do victim/trafficker identification tools work? Previously, we mentioned that traffickers usually use the internet to run their shoddy business. Which sets the base for their tracking and identification by law enforcement. Since they use thousands of online platforms to facilitate their activities, it’s practically impossible to browse and analyze each of them manually.
And that’s where IoT and data analytics integration come in handy. The technologies can help analyze regional and global patterns within a few clicks. By easily accessing the largest human trafficking datasets. These tools enable law enforcers and data analysts to reach the target via the channels they’re already using. And even go as far as tracking specific individuals and conduct further surveys in various locations and times for more informed analysis.
Tool #2. Supply Chain Management
Target User: Business owners
Businesses also have a role to play in combating child trafficking. By noting red flags in their global supply chains and reporting to the relevant authorities. Child trafficking in the supply chains can take various forms. One of the most common incidences is where traffickers target vulnerable workers to fill labor shortages across the entire supply chain. And it all begins in the grassroots. For instance, the bread on the shelves may be made with wheat harvested using forced child labor.
Sometimes, business owners may get the urgency to hire many employees due to anticipated demand increase. This may force them to depend on agents and labor recruiters. Creating a disconnect between the employer and the employee, making it hard to establish any lousy hiring practices or exploitation. The examples are endless.
But is there a way out? You bet! The first measure businesses can take to prevent child trafficking in their supply chains is implementing anti-trafficking policies to address the risks involved. But one thing’s for sure; unless a tangible action is taken, mere policies can barely work.
Businesses have to go out of their way and leverage technology-based solutions to ensure that no child trafficking occurs in their supply chains. Using IoT applications for supply chain management can help track or monitor every process. Right from sourcing raw materials to the transportation and shelving of products. For instance, if you’re in the jewelry industry, you can leverage IoT trackers to confirm that your supplier doesn’t use children in the mines (a common phenomenon). If that’s true, then you can report to law enforcement.
Tool #3. Privacy/Personal Identity
Target User: A variety of stakeholders seeking various purposes, e.g., child trafficking victims anonymously seeking help.
Sometimes you might not want to come out publicly to seek help or report a child trafficking case, and that’s okay! Luckily, technology has created a means of realizing that feat while still preserving your privacy or personal identity.
There are several technology-based approaches that law enforcers, good Samaritans, and relevant NGOs can leverage to accomplish this mission. These may include smartphones, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth devices. According to former victims, the only time they find space away from their oppressors is when they enter public bathrooms. And that’s where IoT-enabled tools can come in handy identifying the criminals plus the victims.
The first step is installing Bluetooth-enabled trackers in various public places suspected to be hot zones for trafficking and connecting them with good Samaritan’s smartphones. The victim only needs to squeeze the tracker to turn it on. Allowing it to broadcast its unique identifier to the volunteer’s smartphone in real-time. This information then gets relayed to the law enforcers and victim assistance NGOs. Giving room for a rapid response to pin down the traffickers and free the victims.
If a rapid rescue isn’t possible, the IoT-enabled Bluetooth devices should record and transmit location data for further tracking. IoT can fish out higher-resolution data of the haunts and routes used by traffickers for grade-A analysis and future rescues.
Side note: This is still a pilot program whose effectiveness and success would require maximal awareness-raising, collaboration, and education. The key target areas would be vulnerable communities (low socioeconomic status), schools, densely populated regions, and more.
These are just a few IoT-enabled tools that different stakeholders can leverage to stop child trafficking. Others may include securing payment methods, youth engagement & empowerment, ethical shopping, and data trends & mapping. We chose to expound on the three because they address issues concerning child trafficking like forced labor and sex abuse. The others fit in the general category of human trafficking.
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