Conference

Tori Walker, an outreach manager for the National Center of Missing & Exploited Children, talks about the dangers of child sex trafficking.

Technology Related Crimes Against Children conference attendees returned to Texas A&M University Central Texas for child sex trafficking training Thursday, the second of a two-day conference on the issue.

Attendees received officer and prosecutor perspectives on child sex trafficking investigation and cases from two guest speakers.

Tori Walker, an outreach manager for the National Center of Missing & Exploited Children, introduced attendees to the grooming, abduction and recovery process of child sex trafficking victims.

Walker used her experience at the Children’s Advocacy Center to remind attendees to listen to the victim’s point of view as well.

“I hear a lot of survivors say ‘I tried to get help. I tried to tell somebody. I just didn’t have the words. I thought I was making it super obvious.’ If a kid starts talking to you, take the initiative,” she said.

Predators use various methods to draw children in. Sometimes, there are positive things children miss from the horrible experience. Service providers and law officials can use those positive triggers to help children empower themselves.

“We have to check in with those kids and see what it is that they miss or want ... Some of their expectations we won’t be able to meet, but every time we can, we’re helping build their self-worth. We are saying, we value what you’re saying,” Walker said.

After Walker’s introduction, State Trooper Derick Wimberly gave an abridged class on Interdiction for Protection of Children.

In 2009, Department of Public Safety developed the course to teach patrol officers how to identify suspicious signs of crimes against children. The two-day class is free, and instructors are provided by DPS.

Throughout abbreviated class, Wimberly pushed attendees to pay attention to detail, as well as establishing professional relationships with local and state agencies.

After lunch, Assistant United States Attorney, Mary Kucera highlighted the legal and practical challenges of child sex trafficking. Kucera is with the Western District of Texas. Her legal perspective gave attendees insight on the challenges and trauma victims face in these cases. To bring the training full circle, Kucera reviewed case studies.

National Center of Missing & Exploited Children staff gave attendees flash drives with the presentations, which enabled attendees to interact throughout the conference.

Attendees left the conference with new resources and points of contact.

For more information about National Center of Missing & Exploited Children, contact Victoria Tori Walker at vmwalker@ncmec.org.

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