It’s estimated that more than one million children are reported missing every year, as the world faces a crisis in its efforts to preserve the rights of children and protect them from abuse and sexual exploitation.
But a Marymount University graduate student is working hard each day to change that.
Martha Bowman, in her first year of study in Marymount’s Forensic & Legal Psychology program, is currently a Legal Research Intern at the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC). Over the past two decades, the organization has committed itself to fighting against abduction, sexual abuse and the exploitation of children around the globe, and advocates for laws, treaties and systems that protect children. Through the Koons Family Institute on International Law & Policy, ICMEC conducts important research that measures threats to children globally, promotes best practices for children’s safety and creates legal tools.
“I chose to intern here because I wanted to gain more experience in the field of legal research while building my skill set in support of a worthy cause, in addition to their flexibility with my school schedule,” Bowman explained.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has operated on a completely remote basis throughout her internship – however, she believes this has worked out positively for her experience.
“It has actually made it easier for me to get my projects and assignments finished within my allotted time constraints,” Bowman said.
This semester, the graduate student is focused on researching sentencing models for child sex offenders around the world to assess their effectiveness, as well as researching policy and legislation concerning missing children in South America. She is also contributing social media content on ICMEC’s multiple platforms.
“Ever since I started pursuing my undergraduate degree in psychology, I developed a passion for the criminal mind and legal field,” Bowman added. “I have enjoyed this internship immensely because it gives me the freedom to research topics of great importance, such as sentencing metrics.”
Following her anticipated graduation from Marymount in Summer 2021, she is aiming to work in the legal field through a federal government position. She also hopes to pursue her passion of psychology research, perhaps through the FBI.
Over the years, ICMEC has made several important impacts on child safety worldwide. In 19 countries, it has worked to develop Rapid Emergency Child Alert Systems similar to the AMBER Alert system in the U.S., bringing the total of countries with similar systems to 32. The organization has also strived to deliver resources and training to educators and school faculty to combat child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The Koons Family Institute has also had more than 320 research interns who have provided ICMEC with important information to fulfill its mission.