Child Trafficking

Let's Talk About Child Trafficking

With this summer’s (2023) popularity of the movie, The Sound of Freedom, we welcome the attention to human, and child, trafficking. So, let’s talk about “child trafficking”. It conjures images of abduction by strangers, transport across legal jurisdictions, huge amounts of money changing hands, and shadowy “consumers” of those trafficked.

The reality, most of the time, and at COAR, is less dramatic, but more heart-breaking and intractable. (And harder to explain in a parish mission appeal with families present.) It starts with poverty. A family breaks down through sickness or injury, death, or imprisonment. There are no doors to lock and dangerous neighbors. The temptation of money and the threat of violence. It is usually a family member that begins the abuse and then expands the abuse to paying customers. It may be taken advantage of by criminal gangs or their members. But it usually begins at home. When the abuse is caught by the police, a child’s journey to COAR, through the courts, begins. COAR’s staff stand by each child as they face their abusers.

Family abuse is the deepest source of shame and humiliation. If we were to publish any details, they would live in this newsletter, our website, our emails, forever. Jailed abusers are often looking for their accusers. Facial recognition makes our survivors vulnerable. Therefore, we have begun to obscure the faces of our minors on our website for the foreseeable future. As for protecting their hearts and minds, we do that too – thanks to the psychologists, teachers, and housemothers that you provide.

Maybe most heart-breaking of all, and unlike the movie, they do not have family to return to, or heal with. They must build a new family at COAR. But they can do that, too — thanks to you.


As most of you know, the COAR children come from tough backgrounds. They are victims of abuse that is sometimes horrific, often terrifying, and always humiliating. Healing shame is an important part of the staff’s work with the children. It is always a difficult balance for us to tell you about them and why they benefit so much from your help but also to protect their privacy and dignity, and more often, their safety, especially in this age of social media. The abusive situations that the children come from often lead to legal action. So, we have begun guarding the children’s names and photos more than in the past. Thank you, all of you, for your understanding, patience, and faith – faith that with the Archdiocese of San Salvador and the professional childcare staff of COAR, you are healing children and young adults.