Helping the Helpers

“Helping the Helpers: The Safeguard Program at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children”
Juliet M. Francis, Gina De Arth-Pendley, Erin Reilly, Christine Feller, and John Shehan.

Article Abstract

In an effort to promote employee well-being, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children proposed that an empirically-informed support system, called “The Safeguard Program”, be established within the organization to help analysts acknowledge and manage potential risks related to repeated exposure to victims and perpetrators of child exploitation. To determine the specific needs of these analysts an empirical study was designed that would utilize current theories and measures on vicarious traumatization to assess analysts’ emotional well-being. Results of the study indicated that symptoms characteristic of reduced compassion satisfaction (CS) as well as increased compassion fatigue (CF) and “Burnout” were found within analysts who had worked in the field of child exploitation prevention for more than four years. Analysts with less than one year of work in the field were found to have more negative emotions on a daily basis and experience less satisfaction in their effectiveness as helpers. Results highlight the need or training programs that would promote a heightened awareness of the risks of exposure to child exploitation materials and provide analysts with strategies for self-care.