Child sex trafficking rescue and intervention.
What images come to mind? People kicking down doors? Law enforcement arresting someone? Kids being carried out of houses wrapped in blankets? FBI raids of brothels?
These are sensationalized images we see on TV and in social media, but have you ever thought of doctors and nurses being the front-line workers who get kids out of trafficking situations? Because they truly are.
However, a lot of healthcare workers don’t realize it yet. This article highlights the amazing impact that healthcare workers can have.
This was a 14-year-old girl who was treated at a hospital. She never said “Help me! I am being trafficked!” She actually denied feeling unsafe to staff at first. But a nurse took time to build trust and rapport with her. She screened the patient for trafficking (as healthcare workers should be doing with high-risk adolescents) and she eventually disclosed to the nurse that she was being trafficked.
She didn’t disclose to a police officer, her mom, or a case worker. It was a nurse.
The reality is that about 90% of trafficking victims will come into contact with healthcare workers while they are actively being trafficked, but only 4% of trafficking reports come from hospitals. This is a huge disparity.
Healthcare workers have a huge opportunity to step in and intervene when they suspect their patient is being exploited or trafficked.
The first thing that healthcare workers need is skills-based training. It’s not enough to give healthcare workers an hour of awareness training, you can’t possibly cover all of the complexities of trafficking in that amount of time.
Secondly, healthcare workers need tools. They need screening processes, protocols, and other skills to be able to interact with trafficking victims in a trauma informed way and to understand why they may not get a disclosure from their patient.
Third, they need to be connected with community resources. It’s incredible when a healthcare worker can identify a victim of trafficking, but then that person needs be discharged to a safe place and not back to their trafficker.
If hospitals can start to put these actions into place, the amount of trafficking victims who are identified and protected, will start to skyrocket.
To learn more information about how to get healthcare workers the training and tools they need, visit us at REHOPE | Services for Women and Children in Human and Sex Trafficking