Child trafficking is defined as the movement of a person (18 years and younger), into a situation of exploitative work such as forced labour or slavery-like practices.

This definition is significantly different from the Trafficking in Persons, which is comprised of three core elements: the movement of a person (inside a country or across borders), with deception or coercion, into a situation of forced labour, servitude or slavery-like practices. The definition for child trafficking reflects the vulnerability of children and the special rights set out by international conventions for their protection. Like adults, children are trafficked for many reasons including begging, work on construction sites, agricultural work, sexual exploitation and for domestic work.

Child trafficking is included in the ILO Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour definition of the term "the worst forms of child labour", which includes:

(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict;
(b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances;
(c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;
(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.