International children’s charity World Vision - which is based in Milton Keynes - is warning how our modern living is fuelling many forms of child exploitation in a report published on Monday.
The report – Small World, Big Responsibility – highlights ways in which people across the UK are often unknowingly complicit in today’s global trade in children.
Child labour contributes to everyday products such as tobacco and mobile phones, so the international children’s charity is calling on people to question where their products come from and how they have been made.
The charity’s chief executive Justin Byworth said: “Each year more than 500 million children are subjected to violence, abuse and exploitation.
“For more than 20 years, World Vision has been working to protect and rebuild the lives of children who have been affected, but we cannot do it alone.”
“Our hope is that this report will stimulate action to combat the global trade in children.
“We can start by thinking about the way we live our lives as individuals.”
The report also highlights the growing trend of children being trafficked in to the UK and exploited here, as well as how improved transport links have led to a boom in global tourism – increasing the risk of abuse to children overseas.
Mr Byworth added that when there is an economic crisis or food shortage, children can all too easily become commodities:
“I’ve just come back from Niger where I saw girls as young as eight being treated as items to be bought and sold for marriage. 12-year-old Zainab fled her home with her grandmother to escape being a child bride having seen her big sister die in childbirth after an early marriage.
“There are too many more heartbreaking stories in this report of children equally in need of protection and help.”