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August 2016Vol. 17, No. 6Child Trafficking and Child Welfare Policy, Practice

Child trafficking does not only occur internationally; it is also a problem in the United States. However, because most of the research on this issue tends to focus on child trafficking outside of the country, there is a dearth of information available to child welfare professionals on the trafficking of minors in the United States. The Journal of Trafficking, Organized Crime and Security published a study exploring the experiences and awareness of 10 child welfare caseworkers in Colorado with regard to child trafficking, including discussion of any training received related to trafficking and their ability to identify child trafficking victims. The study found that the majority of participants:

  • Had not received formal training on issues related to child trafficking
  • Were not aware if other colleagues had received such training
  • Were not aware of the existence of any resources at their agency related to child trafficking
  • Felt that child trafficking identification is difficult in their current position, and victim identification could be improved

This study concludes that child- and family-serving agencies need to improve policies addressing child trafficking, including efforts to increase awareness and understanding of trafficking issues among child welfare professionals, as well as training on how to appropriately identify and work with child trafficking victims. In practice, it is important for child welfare professionals to develop effective interviewing skills that allow space for possible victims to safely share their stories. It is also vital that child welfare professionals collaborate with other service providers to appropriately assess which services may be needed by possible trafficking victims.

Access "Child trafficking and child welfare: Implications for policy and practice," by Stephanie L. Mace, Journal of Trafficking, Organized Crime and Security, 1(2), 2015, at