The number of reported child exploitation are staggering. It is reported that every 15 minutes in the United States, a child is sexually exploited. Although it may be hard for a parent to believe, children are being exploited for their own gain and the financial gain of their caregivers. Child exploitation is often referred to as the facilitation of the exploitation of another human being for the benefit of that person, usually someone else. While there are many different types of child exploitation, there are several forms that fall under the general heading of child exploitation.
The most common type of exploitation occurs when a caregiver allows a child to be exploited. When a young child is allowed to remain under the care of another adult, the adult with control over the child will exploit the child in a variety of ways. The most common is offering the child a modicum of independence or an escape route from abusive circumstances. Children are also often sexually abused by those whom they are allowed to trust.
Many times, parents will lure their children into sexual contact with those whom they know are abusing them. Other times, abusive adults lure their victims into coming into contact with children who have been or are in some way vulnerable. A prime example of this involves any parents’ negligence in providing adequate medical care for their children. If medical care is provided but the child is left without receiving the proper treatment, he or she can become severely ill and be put at risk for life-threatening complications.
Caregivers who fail to provide a safe environment for the child can also be subject to child exploitation. This often takes place when a child has no one to turn to for emotional support. The adult caring for the child has an emotional or psychological need to continue to feel connected to the child. He or she uses the child’s need for love and attention as a means to manipulate and control the child. It is not uncommon for caregivers to exploit the child’s fear and vulnerability to make themselves feel more important and thus have more power over the child.
Children who are suffering from neglect may also be subjected to child exploitation. Caregivers may use the child’s need to be loved and supported as a means to control and abuse the child. This type of exploitation often takes place when the adult caring for the child lacks adequate knowledge and information about child safety. He or she may put the child in situations that could be potentially harmful if left unattended. For example, if a caregiver does not instruct the child about how to use safety equipment or does not provide the needed supervision, he or she may leave the child in a potentially dangerous situation such as unsupervised playing with a group of unknown people.
It is vital for parents and others who have a responsibility to protect their children to take all reasonable precautions to prevent this kind of abuse from happening. Children who experience neglect may be unable to give their consent or they may not understand the gravity of their situation. In either case, the parents’ negligence in taking reasonable measures to prevent harm to the child is tantamount to child exploitation. Caregivers should not only take reasonable precautions; they should also educate their children about the dangers of neglect. As part of that prevention, the caretaker should inform other parents that he or she has a responsibility to make sure that their child receives care that is consistent with the child’s age and level of development.
The other form of exploitation occurs when the child has been maltreated and does not receive care that is equal to or more adequate than what a normal child would receive. This can include being exposed to violence, verbal and physical abuse, and other physical or sexual mistreatment. A child may be psychologically affected by being continually subjected to these types of behaviors. Other parents may not understand the effects that these kinds of behaviors have on the child, and this could lead them to fail to provide their children with appropriate care.
Child exploitation and other child abuse are wrong and should not be tolerated. All children deserve to grow up in a safe and loving environment where they are free to learn, love, and be happy without the constant threat of harm coming from those who are meant to care for them. Educators, doctors, social workers, and everyone else who care for children should ensure that all children’s rights are protected. Educators can take action by teaching about child abuse and the laws that protect children.