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Children in the Sex Trade

Another of the worst forms of child labor is the use of children in sexually related activities, discussed in greater depth in Chapter 3. Article 34 of the CRC explicitly forbids the use of children in prostitution. Due to the increase in child trafficking, an Optional Protocol to the CRC was ratified by the United Nations in 2000; it addresses the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. As of this writing, 158 countries are parties to this protocol, including the United States. The number of children experiencing commercial sexual exploitation is difficult to estimate but estimated to be almost 1 million children, the majority of whom are girls (ILO, 2012). As discussed in Chapter 3 on human trafficking, various factors can push children into sex work, including poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to education. The effects of sexually related labor on children can be traumatic and can include anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and suicide (Clawson, Salomon, & Grace, 2008; Willis & Levy, 2002).

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