Why We Need a Shared Language Around Child Sex Trafficking
November 4, 2021
When my friend Liz and I begin to organize a small group around the local problem of human trafficking, we got some solid advice from the then Executive Director of the child advocacy/rape crisis center we were working with. We had thought providing awareness training to community stakeholders would be sufficient, but were asked “so what are we going to do once people identify minor victims?” In other words, identification training with no intervention plan is incomplete.
What is the impact of all the awareness outputs in North Carolina to identify and respond to suspected incidents of child sex trafficking? It depends. Quality, evidence-informed training that includes ALL survivors of child sex trafficking leads to identification of victims within systems and communities. We need a statewide victim protocol that not merely activates a criminal justice response, but provides sustained service that prioritizes well-being and healing AND that is consistent across all 100 counties. We do not have that yet.
Calling a hotline and law enforcement investigating a tip is not an intervention plan. And yes, there are amazing examples of local communities pulling together and assisting a minor victim and their family. But what happens when the child must move across the state? Into another school with another family? Or is kicked out of a program because of chronic running away? Or when they age out of foster care?
To address the commercial sexual exploitation of children together, we can’t jump to an intervention protocol if we do not have the same information about the problem. We need a starting point. That starting point is solid, reliable information about the problem:
- Information that is not rooted in urban legends, sensationalized or politicized narratives or anecdotal misinformation
- Information that is evidence-informed and peer reviewed by subject matter experts
- Information that includes ALL survivor experiences, not just those that aligns with our individual biases
- Information that is specific to current North Carolina legislation and policy.
This is why NCCASA chose to collaborate with the Justice U Education Consultants and Developers to provide North Carolina learners with the highest quality training program that meets the above standards in the online training series: Essential Knowledge for Addressing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in North Carolina.
And though the content was created by experts in the field across eight disciplines, the training program is very accessible without professional “jargon” that creates barriers to knowledge and understanding. Because of this, it can reach across disciplines and regions to educate organizations, businesses, nonprofits, faith communities, and any child-serving professionals. Organizations can use the training to educate service providers, board members, staff, volunteers, multi-disciplinary teams and task forces.
In this way, we build a statewide foundation of learners across systems who are equipped with accurate information about the problem of child sex trafficking. This is our starting place so we will have all the information we need to take the next step toward a statewide response to the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
A while back I published a blog post An Advocate’s Response to the #Savethechildren Movement in which I asked the audience to consider how a lack of accurate information about child sex trafficking can actually harm children:
While the urge to fight the injustice of child sex trafficking and the desire to help victims is the right response, let’s think first about the misguided and harmful impact of misinformation and “fake news.”
Until we learn to see how human trafficking impacts the most vulnerable, we cannot truly address it in our communities.
NCCASA’s work is to end sexual violence through advocacy, education, and policy. The Essential Knowledge for Addressing the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in North Carolina serves that end. We hope you join us by learning and sharing.
To register for the training and earn CEUs and digital certification, go to: