National Symposium on the Health Needs of Human Trafficking Victims: Post-Symposium Brief. Physical and Mental Health Professionals Roles in Prevention


Mental health providers and researchers emphasize the importance of medical providers having a holistic understanding of human trafficking as well as an appreciation for sub-populations requiring specialized attention. They point out the unique role health care providers can fulfill in terms of screening for individuals at risk for human trafficking. Social service providers affirm that individuals can be at risk for human trafficking as a result of a history of abuse, runaway tendencies, and low income or poverty, in addition to a variety of other factors. They acknowledge that physical and mental health providers are often privy to information crucial to effective prevention. For example, doctors or nurses who are aware of a minors history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can incorporate screening questions into their sessions to identify indicators of potential trafficking at early stages. School nurses aware of families needing additional financial resources could alert youth in those families to labor trafficking and ways to identify safe employment options. Mental health providers also suggested examining those sub-populations who are at risk for trafficking yet were not victimized to better understand what factors might be critical to preventing human trafficking.

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