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August 2012: Serving Your Communities

The Missing and Exploited Children’s Program (MECP) strives to provide state, local and tribal criminal justice professionals with viable resources to meet their goals to achieve safer communities.

For the past year, we have organized webinars, updated and translated publications, and publicized in our monthly newsletter the latest research, promising practices and exceptional programs available through our partners. Now, as we continue to expand the types of resources we offer, we rely on your feedback to help us design and develop new training opportunities that will best respond to your training and technical assistance needs. We hope you will take a moment to complete the MECP Needs Assessment, which will help us identify topic areas and develop programs to better serve you.

Then, take a moment to peruse the rest of this month’s newsletter, which answers many of your questions and highlights upcoming MECP program offerings.



To provide you with training and other resources to address your community’s most pressing challenges, we ask that you complete the MECP community needs assessment. This brief questionnaire will enable our staff to better identify your specific training and technical assistance and resource needs.

We will regularly report the results of the questionnaire on the MECP website. Please check back for more information as well as for updates on the webinar series, training opportunities and other resources available to you.

To complete the assessment, please click here.



We thank you for your participation and interest in the 3rd Wednesdays at 2: 00 p.m. Webinar Series. In the past six months, we have reached more than 3,100 practitioners, including law enforcement officers, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, researchers, social service providers, educators and other juvenile justice professionals. We have read your questions, comments and suggestions on past webinar events. Answers to your most frequent questions follow.

Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

How do I report sexual abuse in my state?

The process for reporting abuse varies from state to state. However, it is always best to contact law enforcement or child protective services to report alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Is it against the law not to report?

Yes. Failure to comply with the law particular to your state is a crime.

What information do I need before reporting?

Any information you, as a member of the general public, can provide about the alleged abuse would be useful. If possible, it is helpful to know the names and addresses of the child and parent, the child’s age, the type of abuse, and any other information that will help establish the type of abuse or identify the abuser. Remember, however, that trained professionals — law enforcement and child protective services — should do the actual interviewing, information gathering and investigation.

If I am unsure whether to report, what is the best course of action?

Jane Braun, Project Director at the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, suggests that you discuss the situation with your local law enforcement agency or call the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-4ACHILD (1-800-422-4453). If you are in doubt about what should be reported, it is better to make your concerns known than to remain silent.

When should I report?

If there is reason to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect, a report should be made at the first opportunity.

Is there a statute of limitations on reporting child sexual abuse?

Yes. The length of the statute of limitation varies depending on the state. Many states have extended their criminal and civil statutes of limitation for child sexual abuse cases. Sergeant David A. Betz, Harford County, Maryland Sheriff’s Office suggests that you check your state law via the Child Welfare Information Gateway directory.

Who handles the report when I first make a call?

If you are reporting to child protective services, your report will be taken by an intake worker who will screen the case based on the information given. If the information indicates possible abuse, the report will be given to a caseworker to get more in-depth information and determine whether abuse has occurred and whether a child is at risk of further harm. When you report to law enforcement, your report will be taken by either an officer or investigator.

-an excerpt from the February 2012 Reporting Child Sexual Abuse webinar

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Child-Serving Organizations

Where can I find sample interview questions to ask when screening staff and volunteers for potentially abusive attitudes or behaviors?

In this webinar, Noni Classen, Director of Education for the Canadian Centre for Child Protection suggests that employers ask open-ended questions that encourage broad answers and facilitate discussion. Employers may also include a disclosure statement in the application that asks applicants to disclose previous criminal histories and employment. Be sure to refer to federal employment laws to ensure that your screening and selection policies do not violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or other federal or state laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace.  More information on the selection and screening process and sample questions can be found in the Preventing Child-Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations webinar. Sample interview questions may be found in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention publication on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse within Youth Serving Organizations.

How can my organization develop prevention policies and procedures to keep children safe from abuse within our child-serving organization?

Creating and implementing new policies and procedures in any organization takes careful planning. First, your organization must set clear goals and strategies for adopting new policies and training staff. Many organizations have protocols governing interactions with youth as well as a system for handling reports of abuse or inappropriate contact. An inventory of promising practices and programs in established youth organizations is a great start. Listen to MECP’s April webinar, entitled Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Child-Serving Organizations, here for more information.

Where can I find information on promising practices and model programs for working with children in multiple capacities?

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Model Program Guide lists more than 200 evidence-based programs that cover the entire continuum of youth services — from prevention to sanctions and reentry. More information can be found online.

Missing to Trafficking: Connections Between the Missing Child and Sex Trafficking

What is sex trafficking? How is it defined?

Pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, sex trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. The Department of Health and Human defines sex trafficking as the inducement of an individual under 18 years of age into performing commercial sex acts by force, fraud or coercion. You may find more information on the Department of Health and Human Service definition in their Sex Trafficking Fact Sheet.

What are some common indicators of sex trafficking among youth?

Common indicators of sex trafficking may include:

  • School truancy
  • Curfew violations
  • Chronic running away or missing from home
  • Shoplifting
  • Injuries from abuse or assault
  • Frequent emergency room visits
  • Fear or anxiety

For more information, review the webinar entitled Missing to Trafficking: Connections Between the Missing Child and Sex Trafficking and the program handout here.

If I believe I am a witness to child sex trafficking, whom should I contact in my state?

You should contact your local law enforcement authority.

Where can I find support services for runaway and homeless youth who may have been victims of sex trafficking?

A number of programs across the country offer services for runaway, homeless, and trafficked youth.

We encourage you to view September’s webinar entitled Finding Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Human Trafficking. For more information on the event and registration, please visit here. Our partners at the Runaway and Homeless Youth Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) will direct you to available resources.

What are the runaway risk factors?

Runaway risk factors may include:

  • History of family conflict, sexual and other abuse
  • Bullying
  • Substance abuse
  • Gang involvement
  • Deviant peers
  • Delinquent conduct

For more information, please review the webinar entitled Missing to Trafficking: Connections Between the Missing Child and Sex Trafficking here.

Where can I receive training on missing children’s issues and commercial sexual exploitation?

MECP provides specialized training and technical assistance to help your agency respond to the missing and exploited children issues in your community. Training and technical assistance opportunities are also available through our partner OJJDP training and technical assistance programs, including the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program and the ICAC National Training and Technical Assistance Program.

For more information on all of our OJJDP training and technical assistance programs, please call 855-866-2582 or visit us online at www.ncjtc.org.

Where can I find information on promising practices for building collaborative partnerships and sustainable efforts to combat this issue?

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has compiled a list — with program overviews and highlights — of training and technical assistance programs, collaborative demonstration programs, and research projects designed to address the commercial exploitation of children and assist victims. For more information, please click here.

Sexual Exploitation of Girls in Gangs

The response to the Sexual Exploitation of Girls in Gangs webinar was so great that MECP hosted a follow-up webinar, entitled Promising Practices in Combating the Sexual Exploitation of Girls in Gangs. This webinar addressed questions related to training and best practices in developing prevention and intervention programs. Panelists identified successful approaches for building effective partnerships and educating various segments of the community. To listen to the recording of the event and view the accompanying slides, please visit here.



MECP invites you to participate in September’s webinar, entitled Finding Services for Runaway and Homeless Victims of Human Trafficking.

September’s webinar will spotlight the connections between runaway and homeless youth and child exploitation. TC Cassidy, from the University of Oklahoma’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center, will discuss the challenges of serving runaway and homeless youth (RHY) and identify RHY programs funded by the Family and Youth Service Bureau (FYSB). You’ll learn how community agencies are addressing the special needs of RHY, including victim-survivors of trafficking; how to locate an FYSB-funded RHY program in your area; what services each of the FYSB-funded RHY program types provides; and who is eligible to receive services through FYSB-funded RHY programs.



MECP has provided assistance to a number of organizations over the past year. Here are some examples:

Training: MECP sent faculty experts to conduct a training program on interviewing child victims of abuse and exploitation. Participants learned sound, evidence-based strategies for gathering information from children.

Office-based TA: MECP sent an expert consultant to help a local first responder’s organization identify its operational and programmatic needs to effectively respond and capture information in missing children’s cases in preparation for an upcoming meeting. Through MECP assistance, the organization connected with the state Missing Children’s Clearinghouse and local AMBER Alert coordinator.

On-site study: MECP partnered with the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program to conduct a site visit and an assessment of a tribal police department’s standard operating procedures, internal processes, and capabilities for responding to endangered, missing, abducted and exploited children.

Are you in need of assistance? Contact MECP at 1-888-347-5610 or [email protected] To submit a request for training and technical assistance, please complete a training and technical assistance form.



MECP’s Online Training Center is your one-stop shop for juvenile justice-related news and events. OJJDP providers and other constituents are encouraged to submit information about their juvenile justice-related events. To submit a request and have your event advertised through the MECP Training Center, please visit the online training calendar.