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May 2022Vol. 23, No. 4Study Evaluates Screening Protocols for Child Trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world, and child trafficking often goes unidentified because of a lack of effective, evidence-based screening protocols. A recent article in Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal evaluates child trafficking screening tools in 26 states and provides recommendations and best practices for screening and identification protocols.

Using interviews with child welfare leaders, the study's research team found that 92 percent of the 26 states had screening protocols in place for identifying potential victims of trafficking. However, states also reported common challenges associated with implementing and utilizing screening tools, with the main one being the lack of standardized use of the screening tools, resulting in inconsistent reporting.

The article calls attention to the need for child welfare agencies and organizations to improve their identification of and response to child trafficking. Findings suggest that one way to improve these protocols is by utilizing statewide task forces, advisory councils, and partnerships with universities. In addition, the authors recommend using psychometrically validated screening and identification tools as part of evidence-based and trauma-informed protocols.