On April 15, 2015, Shelley Allwang, a supervisor for the Exploited Children Division (ECD) of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), spoke to Nicole Jackson’s class CCJS332 Major Transitions: From Undergraduate to Professional.
NCMEC was established in 1984 and is the leading nonprofit organization in the U.S. to provide services for families and professionals in the prevention of abducted, endangered, and sexually exploited children.
The Exploited Child Division (ECD) is responsible for the CyberTipline which receives leads and tips regarding suspected crimes of sexual exploitation committed against childrenand the Child Victim Identification Project (CVIP), a central repository in the U.S. for information relating to child victims depicted in sexually exploitive images and videos. ECD works to identify unknown child victims featured in child pornography images as well as aids in the prosecutions of child pornography cases. As NCMEC is not part of a law enforcement agency, they work in collaboration with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US Postal Service, US Department of Justice and two specialized units of the FBI.
The CyberTipline is a centralized reporting tool for child sexual exploitation incidents. Over 90% of the CyberTipline reports received are regarding child pornography with the next frequency of reports concerning child sex trafficking. CyberTipline Reports are continuously triaged to help ensure that children in imminent danger get first priority (www.cybertipline.org) The CyberTipline analysts then review and process the reports, and make them available to law enforcement for potential investigation. The CyberTipline has received over 4 million reports to date. CVIP provides technical assistance to law enforcement in regards to victim identification. Sometimes it takes 1-2 years to find a victim as in a recent case which was highlighted in class, but in some cases ECD have been able to assist law enforcement in finding victims within 1-2 days. The Child Victim Identification Project (CVIP) catalogs information about unidentified child victims. To date, CVIP has helped to identify 9,000 children and processed over 47,000 requests and 142+ million images and videos.
Shelley is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice. She started in NCMEC’s call center and has been working at NCMEC since 2005. Shelley stated, “Working in the call center was great because you learn everything about NCMEC. NCMEC is a great place to work. They have a very supportive team which helps immensely in dealing with the stress of the work. There are many safe guards in place to help employees deal with secondary trauma, where an individual sees something traumatic. We talk with mental health counselors who teach us coping skills.” To stay focused, Shelley keeps reminding herself of why she is doing the job – to help the children.
Shelley’s advice to students looking for a career at NCMEC, work as an intern or volunteer in the law enforcement field. Practice your interview skills, a great interview can help you get hired.