Economic pressure caused by unemployment or underemployment in a family can be a significant vulnerability traffickers prey upon. Caregivers are responsible for meeting the basic needs of children, but when they lose a job or hours are cut, children often feel pressure to help out. Beyond providing basic needs, a job loss can impact a caregiver’s sense of purpose and identity; the ripples of this can further impact youth’s vulnerability. Lack of basic needs, pressure to provide, and the emotional impact of both of these are things traffickers can use to exploit youth. For youth with a history of sex trafficking, their own or their caregivers’ unemployment or underemployment can increase their risk for revictimization. Additionally, for those looking for work, false or misleading job offers are a common recruitment ploy of both labor and sex trafficking.
I’m not a statistic. Don’t tell me because I’m a foster kid that I’m gonna fail: I’m 18. I just finished high school and I have a job, and I get to start my certificate program in the fall. I even can drive now.A Survivor in our Program
COVID has exacerbated vulnerability from unemployment as jobs are being lost on a historically tragic scale. In large part, this is impacting women, people of color, and families already in lower socio-economic situations – which is creating a snowball effect for vulnerability. Having loved ones or living with someone who has high-risk factors for severe COVID illness impacts folks’ ability to keep working, if they can’t do so remotely. Many youth in our survivor care program are from multi-generational homes; they often live with elderly or high-risk family members. For these families, there is a tension between fear of exposing your family member to the deadly threat of COVID, or continuing to provide for your family’s basic needs. This vulnerability and stress can increase youth’s risk for trafficking.
Nationally, we are seeing really high rates of kids not logging on to remote learning. Some of these youth won’t re-engage with education on the other side of the pandemic. Youth who would have graduated now won’t, and COVID will have a long-term impact on their future employability and career development. This causes a very real vulnerability in limiting safe and adequate employment.
COVID also increases the risk of labor trafficking and exploitation for people who do have jobs. Many industries are under incredible financial stress, and that stress is sometimes passed to workers in the form of exploitation. People are also less likely to leave exploitative or abusive workplaces when there aren’t other opportunities to earn income.
Love146 Works to Address Vulnerability from Unemployment By:
- Helping youth with job readiness, resume preparation, and job training.
- Equipping businesses employing survivors in our care to create more supportive workplaces.
- Supporting youth who were trafficked after responding to false job offers.
- Journeying alongside youth survivors as they begin to dream about their future roles in the community, and equip them to keep taking steps towards their goals.
- Reaching youth with a prevention education curriculum that helps them understand and spot the slippery slope that can lead to trafficking and labor exploitation, and know how to get help.
I see myself as a social worker someday, because I want to help children like me. Ever since I was rescued, social workers were the ones who helped me – and are still helping me. They’re the inspiration of my life. So I’ll study hard, and I will never have to suffer poverty again.A Survivor in our Program
Additional Resources and Organizations: