Labor trafficking of children and youth in the United States: A scoping review

Jordan Greenbaum, Ginny Sprang, Frances Recknor, Nancy S Harper, Kanani Titchen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Child labor trafficking is a largely unexplored and unpublished phenomenon in the United States.

OBJECTIVE: To 1) characterize the state of the science on child labor trafficking, and 2) identify empirical information regarding risk and protective factors, and physical/behavioral health needs of labor-trafficked children/adolescents.

METHODS: This scoping review involved an electronic review of five databases; the search was restricted to studies in English or Spanish and published between Jan 1, 2010-Oct 16, 2020. The search yielded 1190 articles; 48 studies qualified for full review and 8 met inclusion criteria (US-based study addressing risk factors/vulnerabilities for child labor trafficking; protective factors; health impact; or health/behavioral healthcare).

RESULTS: Only one study had sufficient sample size to compare sex to labor trafficking among minors; some did not separate data by age group or by type of trafficking. A few shared data from a common source; one was a single case review. Findings suggested that sex and labor trafficking may share common risk factors (e.g., prior child maltreatment and out-of-home placement) as well as within group differences (e.g., labor trafficked children had less prior child welfare involvement than those involved in sex trafficking and were more likely to be younger, male, Black or non-white, and Hispanic). Multiple physical/behavioral health symptoms were reported and may be useful items for a healthcare screen.

CONCLUSIONS: Child labor trafficking research in the U.S. is in its infancy, although the results of this review point to opportunities for screening and case conceptualization that may be useful to practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105694
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StateE-pub ahead of print - Jun 21 2022

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