Data on child trafficking


How do OECD countries collect data on children trafficked into their own countries for the worst forms of child labour, and what data is publicly available?


This rapid review synthesises findings from rigorous academic, practitioner, and policy references published in the past fifteen years that discuss child trafficking and human trafficking more generally. The focus is on the most predominant data produced by OECD countries, reports produced by international organisations that collect data from OECD countries, as well as available literature on the methods utilised by OECD countries to collect data.

Key Findings

  • There are a number of methodological issues with collecting data on trafficking, making it difficult to accurately estimate the scale of the problem.
  • There is a lack of data available that differentiates between child and human trafficking with most reports devoting little space to child trafficking and often not differentiating between the two on key aspects such as routes, prosecutions, etc..
  • Issues such as death in transit and the cost of trafficking children are almost completely ignored in the published data.
  • There are two approaches to collecting data: victim-centred and trafficker-centred, which should be combined to give a thorough overview of the issue. However, there are significant shortcomings in how this data is collected, managed, analysed, and disaggregated.
  • In the EU, data is predominantly collected by the police and the multi-agency data repository suggested by the EU is not always in place.
  • Trafficking does not necessarily mean crossing borders: children are often trafficked within their own country. For instance, in Germany 45 percent of minor victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation reported were German nationals (BKA, 2015: 9).
  • According to UNODC, 20 percent of victims of trafficking reported are girls, whilst eight percent are boys. Africa and the Middle East have the highest proportion of child trafficking with 62 percent of the victims reported as children (UNODC, 2014).
  • The ILO estimates that as many as 1,225,000 children are in a forced labour situation as a result of trafficking.3
  • In the EU most victims of trafficking reported are Bulgarian, Romanian and Latvian, with Nigerians being the highest non-EU citizens reported. However, the information is not further disaggregated by the age of these citizens and the only data available is that 15 percent of cases recorded within the EU between 2010 and 2012 were of minors (Eurostat, 2015: 21-41).


Suggested citation

O’Driscoll, D. (2017). Data on Child Trafficking. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.