Office of the Governor's Child Sex Trafficking Team August Newsletter

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Office of the Texas Governor, Child Sex Trafficking Team


It's that time of year -- back to school. Whether we are studying virtually or in-person, it's a good reminder that we ALL need to keep learning about child exploitation and how to address it. This crime is an ever-evolving plague in our society that requires us to constantly enhance our expertise and understanding and modify our strategies accordingly in order to beat it. Prevalent myths and recent conspiracy theories about trafficking make it even harder to see the actual truth right under our noses. As Traffick911, one of our CSEY Advocacy Agencies, so wisely stated recently: "What you believe about trafficking determines the visibility, or invisibility, of victims in your own community." 

In this edition of our newsletter, we've gathered some credible resources for you to gain insights into the realities of human trafficking and child exploitation. We hope that in "going back to school" about these issues, we can help bust distracting myths and re-focus efforts on the real solutions.

Happy Learning!

Child Sex Trafficking Team

Learning Resources

Research and Webinars curated by CSTT.

The Truth About Trafficking, by Traffick911.

Trafficking Truths: A Myth Busting E-Book by Rebecca Bender.

World Without Exploitation archived webinars on a variety of topics related to exploitation.

NCMEC Connect: This new virtual gateway to trainings, resources, and best practices re: missing and exploited children helps build your knowledge set around these issues to better protection children in your community.

The ABCs of Safe Online Home Learning by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

The National Criminal Justice Training Center has several free recorded webinars on the dynamics of human trafficking and child exploitation as well as investigation and prosecution of these crimes.

Opportunity to Help Build Expertise in Familial Trafficking of Child Victims from The Institute for Shelter Care:

  • If you are a professional working to investigate or prosecute trafficking or to provide victim advocacy, the Institute for Shelter Care is asking for your participation in a national research study on familial trafficking of minor victims. This study aims to report on prevalence, methods, and challenges of cases where an immediate relative (biological or by marriage/familial relationship) is the perpetrator of the commercial exploitation of a minor(s).
  • It includes a national web-based survey and the option of participating in a videoconferencing interview. The survey should take approximately 20 minutes and you may choose to remain anonymous. The interview is optional and will be conducted via web conferencing at your convenience. 
  • You are asked to secure any necessary permissions from your agency to participate. If you would like a PDF of the survey questions in advance, please email the researcher Jeanne Allert of the Institute for Shelter Care, at
  • If you do not require permission, you are invited to begin the survey now:
  • All participants who request it will be given a complimentary copy of the final survey report.

CSTT Monthly Webinar Series

Healthy v. Harmful Dance for Children - September 10th from 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Author and dance educator Mary Bawden is the Founder & CEO of Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited (DA:NCE). She has a passion to provide research-based education and resources in dance to stop the hypersexualization of children in adult costumes, choreography and music. In this webinar, Ms. Bawden will share information from experts on the effects of sexualized dance, including sexual exploitation, on young children and teens and what we can do to help curb this practice.

Register for this Webinar 


Recent: The Attorney General of Texas' Role in Investigating and Prosecuting Human Trafficking: August 13th

  • Cara Pierce introduced her team from the Texas Attorney General's Human Trafficking and Transnational/organized Crime Section (HTTOC) and presented on lessons learned in her long career prosecuting trafficking as well as her team's strategy to increase prosecutions in Texas. Access the recorded webinar here.

Webinars and Trainings

CHILDREN AT RISK Demand Change Human Trafficking Summit 

  • The 2020 CHILDREN AT RISK Demand Change Human Trafficking Summit will educate participants on the role that demand for commercial sex plays in fueling the sex trafficking industry. The Zoom event will feature national experts such as the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and the EPIK Project, as well as a survivor panel to provide a survivor’s perspective on buyers and demand, moderated by the Andrea Sparks, Director of the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team. Registration is $45 (unless you are a member or volunteer with CEASE) and the event takes place on September 18th from 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM.

Keeping Students Safe

  • Unbound's Keeping Students Safe Project is supported by a grant from the Child Sex Trafficking Team. The project encompasses free training and presentations for students, caregivers, educators, school nurses, social workers, and other youth-serving personnel. In light of COVID-19, Unbound has launched multiple virtual training sessions in both English and Spanish.

Virtual Training Schedule and Registration

  • Unbound recently launched a presenter licensing program to help bring Keeping Students Safe to communities across the state. This self-paced online course equips participants with presentations for youth in 6th-12th grade, school personnel, and caregivers. The new training program is free through October 2020.

Keeping Students Safe Presenter Licensing


PROTECT Texas Prevention Education and Training

  • 3Strands Global Foundation is partnering with the Child Sex Trafficking Team to generously offer Texas schools and youth-serving organizations free access for one year to online training modules to help those working with youth better identify and respond to human trafficking. Participants completing the training will also have access to an age-appropriate, trauma-informed curriculum to teach youth. Individuals will need a work e-mail account with a school or youth-serving organization to register for this opportunity.

Registration for Schools

Registration for Youth-Serving Organizations


SOAR to Health and Wellness

  • The Office on Trafficking in Persons and the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Center are offering a free 1.5-hour virtual SOAR to Health and Wellness training. The training teaches providers how to identify and respond to human trafficking and is appropriate for health care providers, public health professionals, behavioral health professionals, and social workers. This training is the first human trafficking training course for health care practitioners to be approved by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in accordance with HB 2059. The completion of an approved training course is a condition for registration, permit, or license renewal for certain health care practitioners as of September 1, 2020.

September 2nd Spanish Registration 

Self Study

Funding Opportunity

The Jensen Project's GrantTank, a yearly grant program, will fund up to $2 Million to advance economic empowerment and housing opportunities for agencies who serve adult female survivors of human trafficking. Applications are open from August 24, 2020 to October 31, 2020. Requested funding may be awarded during a single-year or multi-year period. Grants range from $100,000 to $1,000,000, depending on the need expressed and the individual grant extended.

U.S. Advisory Council 2020 Report

The United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking (the Council) released its annual report - along with a companion video - highlighting survivor-informed recommendations on how to improve federal anti-trafficking policies.

The report honors the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) and elevates several established best practices, such as the use of victim-centered and trauma-informed approaches in all trafficking programs and responses. The report specifically highlights the recommendations provided by its Underserved Populations Committee (UPC), who was tasked with identifying populations who are more vulnerable to human trafficking.

Throughout the report, the Council strongly advocates for additional training and funding opportunities, as well as increased data collection efforts to gather more detailed information about underserved populations to better inform agencies’ resource allocations and service offerings to trafficking victims and survivors.

The report urges Congress to appropriate more resources to Health and Human Services and Family and Youth Services Bureau to increase their anti-trafficking efforts for children, youth, and families.

The U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking is comprised of eight survivor leaders who lend a broad spectrum of experience and expertise to the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (PITF).

Success Stories


Grantees and partners are helping us move toward our vision of a state where children and youth are free from sexual exploitation.


  • A number of laws and regulations recently went into effect concerning school requirements for policies, training, reporting, and prevention of human trafficking. The Child Sex Trafficking Team has partnered with the Texas Education Agency, ESC 12, and Title IV, Part A Statewide School Safety Initiative (ESC 14) to launch a series of webinars to support ESCs and LEAs with implementation in the 2020-2021 school year. TEA kicked off the series by hosting a webinar for ESCs to unpack policy requirements and equip them with resources, information, and tools to support LEAs. Schools seeking more information from TEA about human trafficking prevention may contact


  • Under the leadership of Mayor Turner's Anti-Trafficking Division, Houston recently became the first major city in the U.S. to require hotels to train their employees with training approved by the City to identify and report human trafficking and to post multi-lingual signage (7 languages, including Gujarati). The ordinance also prohibits employee retaliation for reporting.
  • CSTT is conducting virtual live trainings on the CSE-IT (Commercial Sexual Exploitation Identification Tool) throughout the next few months. So far this summer, 168 new CSE-IT users have been trained to screen vulnerable youth for exploitation and recognize them earlier so that they can get the help they need sooner. These include numerous child serving organizations, including CASA programs, CSEY advocates, drop-in centers, school personnel, and a child protection judge! To learn more about the CSE-IT and/or how to get certified to use it, contact


  • A bus driver noticed trafficking indicators in a young woman with severe cognitive disabilities who was traveling on his bus from one city to another. He helped the young survivor contact her CSEY advocate at SAFE and then drove her all the way back - on his own time -- to the city she started in and where her CSEY advocate arranged for shelter and safety.
  • A young adult survivor walked into SAFE's drop in center after being trafficked. With support from SAFE, she got a job, obtained her own apartment, and gained weekend visits with her daughter, with whom she is scheduled to be reunited. She reports to SAFE staff that she feels strong enough to successfully reject attempts to recruit her back into exploitation and that she is ready to work with law enforcement to help hold her trafficker accountable.
  • Upon conducting a traffic stop, Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper John Handowski used skills gained at DPS' Interdiction for the Protection of Children training. Trooper Handowski observed an adult male driver, an adult male passenger, and a female teenage passenger who claimed she was 16 years old. During the interview, Trooper Handowski learned that both men were documented gang members and recognized indicators the child was at risk. The adult male passenger confessed to sexual assault of the child and Trooper Handowski found child sexual abuse material on the passenger's phone. Trooper Handowski took emergency protective custody of the child, who later admitted to being 14 years old, and reunited her with her parents..

Support Healing

  • A 14 year old girl came to the RESET Emergency Shelter after being trafficked by the brother of her adult boyfriend. Even though she was 8 weeks pregnant, this young survivor would have emotional and physical trauma reactions that were so intense they would only stop only after she was completely exhausted. The support she received at RESET helped her regulate her trauma responses and her outbursts began to decrease in frequency and length. When she ran away with other residents, she returned on her own the next day, was re-admitted, and continued to grow and heal. Now this child is living with her mom and preparing to raise her child with the support of her family.
  • Traffick911 celebrated graduation from high school with several of the youth for whom they provide CSEY Advocacy, both virtually and in cars at Texas Motor Speedway.

Bring Justice

  • After learning how to conduct online stings in a training delivered by CSTT grantee Collective Liberty, a Texas Department of Public Safety agent posed as a 15-year-old girl in an ad placed on a website known for human trafficking and prostitution. Two men individually responded to the ad with photos and offers of money and arranged to meet the agent they thought was a 15-year-old girl at a convenience store in Bowie County, Texas. Both were arrested for online solicitation of a minor.