Human Trafficking Training to Improve
A recent case has highlighted the usefulness of a training program for identifying markers of child abuse and human trafficking, leading the state's attorney general's office to announce that they will be expanding the training it provides to school and medical professionals.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that earlier this month, authorities arrested James Stewart for human trafficking, child abuse and promoting prostitution, and Teri Sanchez on child abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. According to KRQE, the Albuquerque couple is accused of prostituting their 7-year-old daughter for drugs and drug paraphernalia. Despite multiple brushes with Albuquerque police and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, the alleged abuse remained unacknowledged until a nurse at the child's school contacted the AG's office to report the case.
In an announcement last week, Attorney General Hector Balderas said the nurse received special training to detect signs of human trafficking. The training has been provided by the AG's office as part of a yearly human trafficking conference since 2015. According to the announcement, last month's case has proven the effectiveness of the training, and it will now be offered to employees at Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces school districts.
Last month's human trafficking case has brought criticism against the CYFD, who reportedly made contact with the family on numerous occasions to investigate complaints made by staff at the child's school. In their reports, CYFD agents claimed to have found “nothing to cause concern of abuse.” APD's failure to recognize the issue has also been questioned.