Human trafficking is increasingly prevalent in our society and as healthcare professionals we encounter it more and more. Human trafficking is a criminal business that profits from the illegal transportation of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today and second largest - second only to drug trafficking and tied with illegal arms.
Why has this become such an issue in modern day America?
Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon. This criminal enterprise has been around for years but with the advent of social media and online classifieds, the pace of human trafficking has exploded. The prevalence and anonymity of the Internet has fueled the rapid growth of sex trafficking, making the trade of women and children easier than ever before.
It is imperative that healthcare workers develop a baseline understanding of the problem and know what tools and resources are out there to help those victims.
In that vein, we wanted to highlight an excellent resource put out by The National Human Trafficking Resource Center [NHTRC]. The NHTRC's toolkit lists potential red flags and indicators that medical professionals may see in a patient who could be a victim of human trafficking. There are two types of human trafficking addressed in this toolkit: those trafficked for labor and those trafficked for sexual exploitation. The toolkit reviews both general and specific indicators for those two types of victims.
This list is intended to help those in the healthcare professions determine if a patient's condition may be a result of a trafficking-related trauma and should be considered in that context.
Most of the victims are fearful of disclosing their situation, even in a healthcare setting, and the assessment of such people needs to be sensitive to that reality. This toolkit gives specific recommendations for assessment including the specific actions that can be taken if a patient is a suspected trafficking victim.
The entire toolkit can be viewed by clicking the following link:In the face of this growing problem, we hope that this toolkit will be a resource.