Release of “Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States: Guide for Health Care Sector” Part 1

By Sharon E. Chin

NIH cover

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council has recently released an abridged version of the 2013 “Confronting Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the United States” specifically developed for the health care sector. The original, a dense report at 465 pages, was first created to address sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors in the United States by increasing awareness, reviewing current strategies, and providing future recommendations to prevent, identify and respond to the issue. For the sake of reaching health care professionals – doctors, nurses, dentists, mental health specialists, school and community providers, clinics and so on – who serve children and adolescents, a guide was drawn up from the 2013 report.

The guide was tailored to inform health care professionals about the issue of sexual exploitation and trafficking of minors in the US, discuss barriers and skills to identifying victims, and strategies health professionals can use to respond to suspicious scenarios.

Perhaps the most useful aspect of the report is the development of “shared language”, or the defining of terms that may mean different things to different professions. This not only will help future interprofessional communications streamline victims identification, care, and prevention, but common language will differentiate how victims will be treated (ie. detainment vs protective services). For example, commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors has been defined as a form of child abuse, and thus should not be considered criminals.

Overall, research suggests that victims and survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking face developmental, social, societal, and legal consequences that have both short- and long-term impacts on their health and well-being. – IOM/NRC

Furthermore, using the public health social-ecological model of prevention, risk factors for victims have been identified at individual, interpersonal, and community levels, although they are complex. While children or adolescents who exhibit the risk factors have a higher chance of becoming sexually exploited or trafficked, these risk factors may function be independent or influence one another. Perhaps the least addressed – but oldest and most influential – risk factor is the neighborhood context. Communities that are characterized by poverty, crime, police corruption, adult prostitution, nomadic males, and where norms of sexual behavior unsafe or unhealthy, risk of criminal involvement within adolescents are increased.

Cancer InCytes magazine has published articles about the link between childhood physical and mental trauma and disease.

Trauma & Chronic Disease:

CHILDHOOD TRAUMA LINKED TO CHRONIC DISEASES IN ADULTHOOD

http://www.cancerincytes.org/#!childhood-trauma-linked-to-chronic-diseases-in-adulthood/c1jot

 

Trafficking as a Public Health Problem

HEAL TRAFFICKING: HEALTH PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION, ADVOCACY, LINKAGE

http://www.cancerincytes.org/#!heal-trafficking-health-professional-ed/c1srp

 

Sharon E. Chin is an MPH candidate at Rutgers University and is Social Media Editor for Cancer InCytes magazine. Her interests are exploring social justice issues through public health lenses.

References:

IOM (Institute of Medicine) and NRC (National Research Council). 2014. Confronting commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of minors in the United States: A Guide for the Health Care Sector. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

 

 

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