Hilton Worldwide has announced they are moving forward with the development of an internal code of conduct focused on preventing child prostitution and sexual exploitation at their hotel properties around the world. Additionally, they remain in close contact with child protection organization ECPAT to discuss signing their Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children in Travel and Tourism. Hilton's efforts indicate a significant response to the over 7,000 letters from Change.org members asking them to take a stand against child sex trafficking.
Hilton Worldwide has been working with ECPAT since August to identify and promote promising practices in the travel and tourism industry for combating child sex trafficking. In addition to working externally with NGOs, Hilton Worldwide has announced they are moving forward with developing an internal code of conduct, which among other things would address the issue of child sex trafficking and create mechanisms to prevent the crime from taking place at Hilton hotels. Hilton Worldwide now stands ready to become a pioneer in the fight against child trafficking.
Hotel and other travel and hospitality industry companies have a unique ability to prevent child exploitation with a few simple steps. Training staff to recognize and report child trafficking, holding suppliers accountable to basic protection standards, and working with NGOs are just a few of the ways hotels can significantly decrease child prostitution. Beginning in 2004, the child protection-focused nonprofit ECPAT-USA has asked major U.S.-based hotel chains to sign the Code of Conduct. Carlson Companies — owners of Radisson, Country Inn & Suites, and others — proudly declared their commitment to protecting children. A few others, including Choice Hotels in response to a Change.org petition, have made some positive steps but ultimately failed to embrace the full range of actions they can and should take. Now, Hilton stands ready to sign on to both internal and external child protection codes, a move that would set an industry standard.
Child sex trafficking is a significant problem in hotels around the world. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that up to 100,000 American kids are trafficked for sex each year. And the number of children sold around the world is in the millions. These children are frequently sold at hotels and motels. In the U.S., victims as young as 12 have been found living in hotel rooms for weeks at a time, forced to have sex with a dozen men a night or more. This is why it is critical for companies like Hilton to make child protection a priority.