Human Trafficking Intervention - How Nurses Can Help Change the World

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Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, but certain people are more susceptible than others. Recent migration or relocation, substance use, mental health issues, participation in the child welfare system, and being a runaway or homeless teenager are all significant risk factors. Traffickers frequently recognize and use the weaknesses of their victims to establish dependency. 

Sadly, when nurses and other healthcare professionals come across victims of trafficking, they frequently are unaware of it, missing opportunities to take action. Although there isn't one symptom that can definitively show that a person is being trafficked, there are several indicators that clinicians should be aware of. Here are some ways that nurses may help victims and survivors of human trafficking.

Screening and Assessment
The typical characteristics of an adult or child being held captive by human traffickers should be observed by nurses. During the screening, nurses should watch out for possible indicators of human trafficking both verbal and nonverbal markers. Examples include questionable and inconsistent documentation in patient records. The patient might say they are on vacation but is unable to provide information such as their arrival or departure dates, an address, or a phone number. Additionally, there are health markers like undernourishment, STDs, addictions, and mental health problems that you need to be conscious of.

Stay Informed
Attending a nearby training program can help you learn more about this increasing problem. Promoting laws against human trafficking is essential for creating long-lasting solutions that will finally put an end to this widespread issue. Keep abreast of recent federal and state laws, and start paying attention to regional responses and initiatives. When a significant policy change is being proposed, voice your support for it and let others know how vital it is.

Be A Patient-Victim Advocate
By acting at the local, state, and federal levels, nurse leaders can protect those who are the victims of human trafficking. When there is a suspicion of trafficking, nurse leaders can assist their team in collaborating closely with law authorities to identify the victims and the perpetrators. It's crucial to work with the local nursing schools to integrate identifying strategies into the curriculum. 

Likewise, nurse leaders can influence lawmakers at the state and federal levels to enact programs that help victims and increase public awareness. To eradicate human trafficking, collaboration with governmental institutions, specialized associations, and law enforcement is crucial.

Dissemination of information
By posting leaflets on human trafficking at their workplaces, providing emergency contact information, hosting lectures and webinars on the subject, and interacting with vulnerable populations, nurses can contribute to public education. You should contact your local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline if you see somebody whom you feel is involved in human trafficking.

Some nurses volunteer by using their medical knowledge to promote health and awareness in the community. Others provide health screenings at community events, give advice on health, abuse and education and educate the public on the importance of reporting signs of human trafficking.

Nurses are in a good position to spot symptoms of suspected human trafficking, including both physical ones like physical abuse and malnutrition as well as mental ones like submissiveness, disorientation, fear, and low self-esteem. Nurses must have access to techniques for assessing human trafficking to safeguard victims and alert authorities about offenders.

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