Volunteering To Help Stop Child Sex Trafficking

The fastest growing criminal industry in the world is the buying and selling of people [1]. There are a variety of reasons for this rapid increase:

– There is fairly low risk as these cases are difficult to investigate and prosecute

– This crime has taken to the internet allowing it to scale at an unprecedented rate

– A person is a reusable product that these predators can sell countless times, while those selling drugs and weapons always have a supply issue.

There are 150,000 new escort ads posted online every single day [2]. While not all these ads are for victims of trafficking, many are. Hidden among this massive number of ads are children that are being sold for sex. This is the haystack we are expecting law enforcement to go through every day in order to recover these children.

Law enforcement often lacks the time and resources and sometimes the research skill set necessary to achieve this. Alongside that trafficking has a transient nature, meaning that law enforcement not only has a huge task in front of them, but they need to accomplish it before the victim is moved to someone else’s jurisdiction. All while also policing every other crime that is taking place within their jurisdiction.

A New Solution to Stopping Child Sex Trafficking

This crime is too big for one person, one organization and one agency to stop it alone. The solution must be a community-wide effort that works by, through and with law enforcement.

Guardian Group has been researching and working with law enforcement and survivors with lived experience to develop a scalable solution to combating this crime. From this work the PURSUIT® Volunteer Training and Assessment course was developed.

This volunteer program uses the force of those with Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) skills to fill the gap that exists in law enforcement’s ability to combat this crime alone.

Volunteering with the PURSUIT® Team

First a volunteer must take the PURSUIT® Volunteer Training and Assessment course. This course will teach someone what sex trafficking looks like on the internet; it will not teach OSINT skills. Once the course work is complete the volunteer is asked to show what they learned by passing three practical exercises. After this is accomplished, they are free to begin searching for minors being sold for sex on the internet wherever they want to in the country.

The goal is for a volunteer to put a true identification and age to a potential victim of trafficking using only Publicly Available Information (PAI). This includes things like social media accounts, voting records, and court records. Once this information is gathered it is sent back to Guardian Group for our analysts to vet and send to the correct law enforcement partner.

This is not simple work. Many volunteers have sent feedback stating that this is much harder than they originally imagined. But as Theodor Roosevelt said nothing worth doing is easy. We know this is challenging work, our team has been doing it for years now, but more importantly we also know we cannot do it alone and every single child being exploited deserves our effort.

If you have this unique skill set, we ask you to use your OSINT skills for good and join us! If you do not but know someone who does, we ask you to pass this information along.

Can I volunteer without OSINT skills?

There are two tactical and necessary ways to support this fight if you do not have the OSINT skills necessary to volunteer with the PURSUIT® Team.

  1. Get Trained – Learn how to recognize and respond to potential situations of trafficking. Victims exist in society just like everyone else, but we so often fail to recognize them. Child victims report that while they are being exploited they have to tell at least seven adults before they are believed [3].

Recognizing these situations and reporting it to law enforcement allows them to take action. Officers have described it to us like this, imagine your home gets broken into but nothing is really taken so you do not report it. Then the same thing happens to your neighbor, and they also do not report it. Yet both you and your neighbor expect law enforcement to make sure this person is stopped. How is law enforcement supposed to stop this person from breaking in if they do not know it happened? Understanding trafficking and having the courage to report it could potentially save a life.

  1. Become a Guardian – The work that needs to be done is time consuming and we understand that not everyone has the ability to commit the amount of time necessary to support in this way. However, you can commit to donating every month at whatever level is comfortable for you.

The Guardians generate reliable funding for this fight that makes sure Guardian Group has an analyst available to support law enforcement at all times. It also ensures that each piece of information generated by the PURSUIT® volunteer program is vetted and placed into the proper authorities’ hands for action.  The Guardians play a vital role in ensuring that this work can be accomplished and in turn are saving lives from this horrific crime.


No one person, one organization or one agency are going to stop child sex trafficking alone. Find the way you fit in and join Guardian Group and this community-wide effort to recover these children and place these predators behind bars.





[1] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Human Trafficking Fact Sheet [PDF].

[2] Thorn (2018, January). Survivor Insights: The Role of Technology in Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking [PDF].

[3] Urban Institute. Estimating the Size and Structure of the Underground Commercial Sex Economy in Eight Major US Cities. Rep. Washington D.C.: n.p.,2014. Print