Those on the front lines helping vulnerable children in Ruston, Louisiana, knew human trafficking was a real problem in the area and wanted to address it. To accomplish this, they hosted the Community Response to High Risk Victims of Child Sex Trafficking training provided by the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program (AATTAP) February 5-7, 2019. The training’s focus is to teach community and system stakeholders how to detect human trafficking activities, work to respond and help trafficking victims, and expand their prevention efforts.
“It really is a specialized field,” said Byron Fassett, AATTAP Program Manager. “To understand human trafficking and peel the layers back takes a tremendous amount of training.”
Fassett said community members participated in the AMBER Alert Community Focus Group on Child Sex Trafficking the year prior and asked for additional help in identifying their needs and resources. “This shows our training is not ‘once and done’; rather, we invest in the success of each community, helping them to establish an effective response for their most vulnerable victims.”
Close to 150 police officers, child protective services agents, attorneys, mental health therapists and other community stakeholders participated in the training.
“It is a hidden crime as most of these victims don’t self-report,” said Cathy De La Paz, a detective with the Dallas Police Department who also serves as an AATTAP associate to coordinate child sex trafficking training with the program. “We know if you have prostitution, you have trafficking. If you have prostitution, you have kids being exploited and victimized.”