Missing Children, State Care, and Child Sex Trafficking: Engaging the Judiciary in Building a Collaborative Response

Missing Children, State Care, and Child Sex Trafficking: Engaging the Judiciary in Building a Collaborative Response.
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
2015

One out of every six runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) in 2014 was likely a victim of sex trafficking.1 Traffickers constantly seek out opportunities to engage with and exploit vulnerable youth, and runaways are particularly vulnerable. Juvenile and family court judges have an enormous responsibility for the children and youth under their court’s jurisdiction. This includes ensuring safety, well-being, permanency, and rehabilitation for victims of child abuse and neglect and for youth involved in juvenile justice proceedings. When these already vulnerable children run away or go missing from a placement, the stakes are very high. Every moment counts and judges can take action to prevent exploitation by acting swiftly and collaboratively. Growing understanding of the links between child welfare or juvenile justice involvement, domestic child sex trafficking, and children who run away or go missing from courtordered placements has led to the question: “What steps can a judge take when a child runs away or goes missing from care?” This technical assistance brief is intended to educate judges about steps to be taken to assist in the location and recovery efforts for children missing from care by ensuring the legal guardians, social workers, and child advocates within child serving agencies are aware of and engage assistance from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children on behalf of these endangered missing children.

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