A Survey of Child Welfare and Labor Trafficking in California: A White Paper

Download the full White Paper:

The purpose of this study is to better understand how the welfare system is currently identifying children (under 18-years-old) who experience being labor trafficked for commercial labor – work beyond sexual economies. This study is a survey of individuals working in California, where 186 participants were invited to respond to a questionnaire between September 23, 2019 and November 30, 2019. The majority of those who responded to the survey worked in the child welfare system. This study reveals, child welfare workers, probation officers / juvenile justice system workers, and non-governmental organizations are working with children who have been labor trafficked. What was discovered after conducting a survey: 25% of the participants confirmed working with children who were labor trafficked, 25% did not know if they had worked with children who were labor trafficked, and 50% were providing services to or supporting children who work for pay. Children were informally identified as working in a range of industries including agriculture / farm work, construction, forced commercial sexual economies, forced drug sales, forced human smuggling, forced theft/stealing, housekeeping/domestic work, janitorial, massage parlor/massage, nail/hair salon, pan handling/begging, restaurant work, retail, and other. Based on these preliminary findings, this study recommends the following next steps:

  1. There is an immediate need to develop protocols and train child welfare workers on child labor trafficking, similarly to how such professionals are being trained on child sex trafficking.      
  2. There is a need to deepen an understanding of child welfare and juvenile justice system’s responses to child labor and sex trafficking through research; in particular on evidence-based research that may determine promising practices for prevention and early identification of all forms of human trafficking affecting children.
  3. It is recommended that California State Agencies and local organizations broaden their awareness raising efforts to encompass education on children’s experience with work and the continuum of labor violations and trafficking.
  4. Prevention of child labor trafficking is much needed, therefore, more data on children who experience labor exploitation on the continuum of labor violation and trafficking is needed. Statewide data collection systems have been designed to capture prevalence of child sexual exploitation, however, less understood is the range of labor violations, recruitment and industries children may be experiencing commercial exploitation. 

Honoring Human Trafficking Awareness Day – Teaching about Human Trafficking Fall 2019

To honor human trafficking awareness day, I would like to share content created by students at the University of Utah.

SW 6621 / SW 5830 at University of Utah
Semester: Fall 2019

University of Utah
An Online Course
Professor Annie Isabel Fukushima

This course was an upper division undergraduate and graduate online human trafficking elective course designed to introduce students to contemporary human trafficking, both domestically and globally. Students learned about important terminology and types of trafficking, indicators of and contributors to this issue, and policy debates regarding appropriate intervention. They grappled with theories and debates on human trafficking, labor exploitation, sexual economies, child abuse, immigration, intersecting forms of violence and poly-victimization, trauma, culture, legal systems, media representations, prevention, and a range of modalities to respond to trafficking and violence from micro to macro contexts.

As students learned about human trafficking, discussed with each other the content, watched videos, and read content, through their regular engagement with course content, it was an honor to be part of their journey in shifting in understanding and knowledge on complex issues. Even as we connected on the web, students connected to each other through their words, and for some, eventually, through image and sound.

This web publication of student created content is dedicated to remembering those who survived, lived through, continue to survive, passed on, and are dying from forms of violence such as human trafficking.

Students in the online course created a range of content – video, podcasts, scholarly writing, addressing issues regarding a twenty-first century concern: human trafficking. The content created by students do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Fukushima.

About the professor: Dr. Annie Isabel Fukushima is an Assistant Professor in the Ethnic Studies division at University of Utah. Dr. Fukushima is author of the book Migrant Crossings: Witnessing Human Trafficking in the US (Stanford University Press, 2019). She has authored multiple scholarly and public works on issues of violence, race, gender, and immigration. And has served as an expert witness on human trafficking for a range of courts in California, Colorado, Utah, and Washington.



Scholarly Papers

Select few scholarly papers written by graduate students at University of Utah. Do not recirculate, reproduce, or cite without the author’s expressed permission.