Human trafficking is a global issue based on exploitation. Traffickers prey on those who are most vulnerable. Every country is affected by human trafficking, including the United States. More than 8,500 tips were reported to the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2017, nearly 30% of which involved children under the age of 18.
Unfortunately, trafficked persons often go unnoticed. A 2014 study published in the Annals of Health Law found that nearly 88% of participants identifying as sex trafficking survivors had some contact with health care while being exploited (Lederer and Wetzel). A 2017 survey report from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) found that over half of labor and sex trafficking survivors surveyed had accessed health care at least once while being trafficked. Nearly 97 percent indicated they had never been provided with information or resources about human trafficking while visiting the health care provider. These studies underscore the reality that health care providers are often unprepared to identify and appropriately respond to trafficked persons.
With support from Dignity Health Foundation, Dignity Health has taken a stand to change this reality by creating the Human Trafficking Response (HTR) Program. The goal of this program is to ensure trafficked persons are identified in the health care setting and appropriately assisted with trauma-informed care and services.
Dignity Health’s Human Trafficking 101: Dispelling the Myths provides basic education to health care professionals and other first responders about human trafficking, including definitions, prevalence, and common misconceptions. This module is narrated, includes video clips of survivors, and has the option to print a certificate of completion.
To learn more about the Dignity Health HTR Program, or to implement a similar program in your health care setting, please download this updated Dignity Health Human Trafficking Response Program - Shared Learnings Manual below.
Download Shared Learnings Manual
Dignity Health now has a policy in place to guide staff on how to respond to patients who may be victims/survivors of any type of abuse, neglect, or violence, including human trafficking. This policy includes the PEARR Tool, a tool that guides health professionals on how to offer victim assistance to patients in a trauma-informed manner.