Giving voice to young people's experiences of child trafficking

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Dr Alinka Gearon is a Lecturer in the Department of Social and Policy Science at the University of Bath. Her research addresses child trafficking and gives voice to children's experiences of being separated from caregivers, migrating to the UK and being trafficked. Below Alinka shares her experience working with the charity ECPAT UK and trafficked young people in interactive peer-group sessions.

The start-up fund from the Public Engagement Unit helped to fund an interesting way to engage young people with my research. Collaborating with ECPAT UK, a leading charity in supporting children who have been trafficked, I ran interactive peer-group sessions with trafficked young people to share research findings from 'Child Trafficking: Experiences of children on the move' (Gearon, 2016).

Young people provided their views on dissemination of these research findings to different public audiences and provided fresh insight. Key practitioner groups that need to be reached are social workers, police and immigration staff. But also young people suggested others such as librarians as trafficked young people can be ‘hidden’ in the community in plain sight, e.g. spending time in libraries.

Young people were passionate about reaching other young people and want to publish Kayla's story - a short but hard-hitting message about one young person's experiences of being trafficked. Fantastic ideas were generated about use of social media, radio and billboards to reach young people both here in the UK and in rural areas in source countries. They envisaged that these ideas will serve as powerful messages to prevent young people being trafficked. Young people stated they want to participate in this important area of work and hope further funding can be secured to take these ideas forward.  ​

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