As an estimated $150 billion criminal industry, human trafficking is a threat that can impact any age, gender, race or ethnicity. NAPNAP Partners for Vulnerable Youth, a charitable affiliate of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), recognizes that abuse and exploitation of children and adolescents through trafficking has become a critical emerging health crisis and egregious human rights violation that adversely impacts the physical and mental health of children and adolescents around the world.
Unfortunately, identifying trafficked children is often underrecognized, underreported and underemphasized in health care settings. With children often not understanding their victimization, health care providers are left to navigate the identification and legal response needed when victims of child trafficking present in a health care setting. Health care professionals must respond in an evidence-based, trauma-informed and patient-focused manner when taking action to support the needs of pediatric patients who might be victims of trafficking.
“Nearly 87% of trafficked persons have visited a health care provider without being identified,” said NAPNAP Partners for Vulnerable Youth President Regena Spratling, PhD, RN, APRN, CPNP-PC, FAANP, FAAN. “Since 2017, NAPNAP Partners has developed education courses and resources to help health care providers better identify patients in their practice who may be a victim of child trafficking. By equipping health care providers to identify and respond swiftly and effectively, there is the opportunity for our members, and child advocates, to intervene and help put an end to child trafficking in their community.”
With the nursing curriculum and the academic process often slow to change, professional nursing organizations must provide education and resources to their members to identify and treat trafficked children. Such organizations often have the agility, member expertise, credibility and influence to spread critical information and education to their members.
NAPNAP Partners is committed to supporting the education of health care providers through a series of recommendations regarding implementing the Core Competencies. The purpose of Core Competencies is to educate health care organizations and academic institutions on the skill sets needed for providers to properly identify, respond to and meet the needs of patients who are at risk of or have been trafficked. These recommendations include, but are not limited to, applying Core Competencies as a critical resource in evaluating personal readiness as a practicing health care provider to respond to trafficked children and youth presenting in clinical environments. They also suggest that the Core Competencies be integrated into policies, procedures and protocols with the understanding that once implemented, they are put through rigorous implementation and evaluation science to measure outcomes carefully.
The position statement, including additional steps NAPNAP Partners is committed to taking to make impactful changes, is published in the September/October edition of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioner’s Journal of Pediatric Health Care and can be accessed here.
Oct. 26, 2023