Human Trafficking: the modern-day form of slavery; the coercion of human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labor, or other purposes through force, fraud, or coercion.
In Texas, it is estimated that approximately 600 children and adolescents are victims of forced sexual acts per night.
The Scope of the Problem
- Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world and currently the 2nd most profitable.
- An estimated 800,000 adults and children are trafficked across international borders each year.
- In the US, An estimated 2/3 of our ~2 million runaway youth (1.3 million) are lured into sexual exploitation within 48 hours of leaving home.
- Houston is considered a hub of human trafficking in the US and world due to its major interstate highway system (I-10), diverse population, proximity to boarders and seaports and strong demand.
- In 2003, Texas became one of the first two states (with Washington) to enact laws making human trafficking illegal at the state level.
- Identifying the trafficked victims is the first important step to connect them with appropriate care and rehabilitation services.
- Health care professionals are a first line of defense in recognizing victims in a clinical setting. In one study of survivors, 50% of victims sought medical care while in captivity, and were MISSED.
The first obstacle in the fight against human trafficking is the lack of awareness in the medical community. With training and education, medical professionals can lead the charge against this major global and local issue.
Identifying Victims of Trafficking
Call the National Hotline when you suspect your patient is a victim of human trafficking: 1-888-3737-888
Clues that a patient may be a victim of trafficking:
- Patient is accompanied by another person who is controlling
- Accompanying person insists on providing health information
- Patient has visible signs of physical abuse
- Patient acts unusually fearful or submissive
- Patient has recently been brought to this country from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America, Canada, Africa, or India
- Patient lacks a passport, immigration, or identification documentation
- Patient not able to come and go as he/she pleases
DFC Fights Trafficking in Texas
To train and equip health care professionals to understand, identify, and provide resources to victims of human trafficking in Houston.
As healthcare professionals, we are poised in a unique position to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking. We should not only be involved in the fight against this crime, but also serve as strong advocates for those who are in the most vulnerable positions.
We have developed a 1 hour curriculum approved for Continuing Medical Education credits within some local health systems. This curriculum focuses on identifying potential victims, the best approach to help victims in the healthcare setting, and the available resources in Houston.
We train healthcare professionals using this curriculum at medical facilities (minor care clinics, free-standing urgent care centers and large hospitals) around Houston and along the I-10 corridor.
We coordinate specific outreach events (bus tour, forum, etc.) to show healthcare professionals firsthand the scope and proximity of this issue.
We collaborate with local organizations that work towards similar anti-human trafficking goals – to raise awareness in our community about human trafficking and evidenced-based approaches to support survivors in our community.