Child Sex Trafficking Training for an Evolving Field

Child sex trafficking (CST) is a complex and rapidly evolving crime, and as professionals we know continual learning is critical to stopping it. At the same time, child sex trafficking investigations and case support frequently involve a significant amount of time and resources, making it challenging for professionals doing the work to seek training opportunities. That is why the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) is collaborating with leading field experts in law enforcement, child welfare, victim services, and individuals with lived expertise to create a series of self-paced, free, online training modules to equip professionals with the skills needed to combat child sex trafficking in their communities. NCMEC has also been a strong partner with VINE for more than a decade, drawing on a shared mission to keep the most vulnerable informed and safe.

 

NCMEC’s team of experts created our foundational training series, Introduction to Child Sex Trafficking, now available on our free virtual learning platform: NCMEC CONNECT. These short, sequential modules leverage data-driven, field-based information to better educate law enforcement, child-serving professionals and the general public about the nature of child sex trafficking today. 

  • Module 1: Recognizing Child Sex Trafficking defines child sex trafficking and reveals myths and misconceptions related to this crime. It provides learners with red flags and indicators of child sex trafficking and best practices for reporting. 
  • Module 2: Child Sex Trafficking: Vulnerabilities and Grooming explores how traffickers manipulate basic human needs, identifies risk factors and vulnerabilities traffickers target, and provides an overview of common grooming tactics used by traffickers. 
  • Module 3: Child Sex Trafficking and Trauma looks at the continuum of trauma, identifies impact and responses of complex trauma associated with CST and provides practical strategies for successful engagement with youth who have experienced trauma. 

Together these modules aim to increase learners’ knowledge of the issue and understanding of its impact on victims and communities. Whether you’re a seasoned professional who works with child sex trafficking survivors, you work in a field where you will likely respond to a child sex trafficking case, or are a concerned citizen, I highly recommend you register for Introduction to Child Sex Trafficking. 

 

NCMEC is releasing our next set of online training modules, Child Sex Trafficking for Law Enforcement ProfessionalsBuilding upon the foundations provided in the Introduction package, these modules are tailored and exclusively available to public safety professionals. Each module can be viewed individually or as a series. Here is more about each 30-minute training module:

  • Investigating Child Sex Trafficking Cases will equip learners with practical strategies for victim-centered investigations, innovative modes of investigating, an overview of types of evidence to gather, and available NCMEC resources to support law enforcement professionals in child sex trafficking investigations.  
  • Rapport Building & Successful Engagement with Survivors discusses the mindset and behaviors of child sex trafficking victims and introduces best practices for law enforcement officers when interreacting with survivors. 
  • Leveraging Available Resources for Child Sex Trafficking Casesprovides learners with information on how a collaborative approach helps mitigate challenges in child sex trafficking cases.

Each module in this package includes first-hand perspectives from law enforcement officers who have successfully investigated multiple high-level child sex trafficking cases by implementing trauma-informed and victim-centered approaches.   

 

NCMEC will continue to build upon these specialized trainings as a part of this ongoing series. In fact, our team is already hard at work collaborating with frontline professionals to offer advanced training content for child welfare professionals, which is scheduled to be released later this year. And, just like we know the nature of child sex trafficking is ever-changing, we know our training will need to continuously evolve and adapt, and we will utilize our unique vantage point to do so.  

 

As the national clearinghouse for missing and exploited child cases, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children sees every day that child sex trafficking sits directly at the intersection of both of these forms of child victimization. In 2021 alone we received more than 17,200 reports of suspected child sex trafficking - from every state and type of community. And 1 in 6 of the more than 25,000 cases of children reported missing to NCMEC in 2021 who had run away were likely victims of child sex trafficking. 

 

Each day we encounter new and unexpected challenges in identification of and response to child sex trafficking (CST). Available resources, applicable laws, agency structure and protocols, and cultural considerations vary from state to state and region to region. And the complex trauma survivors often experience reveals there is no one size fits all response. Faced with these challenges, NCMEC’s team of child sex trafficking analysts and case managers are also observing and utilizing some of the most innovative approaches across the nation. Additionally, we have the tremendous resource of lived experiences, through our CST Survivor Expert Working Group, which is comprised of 15 expert consultants from across the nation who are helping to apply a survivor-informed lens to our work. 

 

I know firsthand that when your job involves working with people who have experienced extreme trauma, ongoing learning is critical for successful results. NCMEC’s training programs go beyond simply definitions and statistics, instead offering practical strategies to increase victim engagement and successful case outcomes. Our goal is to help equip professionals with as many tools as possible to build their own community-based responses. If you are reading this blog, we recognize you are likely already a professional that works with survivors and victims. Whether you already work with survivors of child sex trafficking or not, I hope you will consider taking the trainings. We look forward to learning with you and are grateful for all the work you already do to prevent, protect, and provide services to survivors.

 

To learn more about NCMEC’s CST programs click here.

 

Eliza Reock

Child Sex Trafficking Program Specialist

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

 

Guidance for Registering for NCMEC Connect

If you DO NOT have a NCMEC CONNECT account, please follow the instructions below: 

  • Apply for access to NCMEC CONNECT https://connect.missingkids.org/
  • Allow at least one business day for our staff to vet your application 
  • After receiving a confirmation email, log in to NCMEC CONNECT to see your profile and your profession-specific course catalog 
  • Locate the Child Sex Trafficking Recognition and Response course list at https://connect.missingkids.org/cst

If you already have a NCMEC CONNECT account, please follow this link to sign in and register for the courses

 

Eliza Reock

Author

Eliza Reock

Eliza Reock is the Child Sex Trafficking Program Specialist with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

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