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the role of helping professionals in combating human trafficking

The Role of “Helping” Professionals in Combating Human Trafficking

Julie Lewellyn

Marywood University

  • “The act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion” (U.S. Dept. of State, 2013, p. 31).
types of human trafficking
Types of Human Trafficking
  • Labor trafficking
  • Sex trafficking
  • Forced labor
  • Debt bondage
  • Involuntary domestic servitude
  • Recruitment and use of child soldiers

(U.S. Dept. of State, 2013).

  • Estimated that there are 20.9 million trafficking victims worldwide (U.S. Dept. of State, 2013).
  • Approx. 80% female, 50% children (Dovydaitis, 2010).
  • Estimated that 17,500-20,000 victims are trafficked into U.S. each year (Peters, 2013).
  • Estimated that 100,000-200,000 American children are victims of sex trafficking in the U.S. (Peters, 2013).
legislative responses
Legislative Responses
  • Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000
  • United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children
research question
Research Question
  • What can helping professionals do to aid in the identification, protection and prevention of human trafficking victims?
  • Three perspectives-nursing, criminal justice and social work
nursing perspective
Nursing Perspective
  • Harsh working conditions often lead to physical and psychological symptoms/conditions
  • Common physical symptoms/conditions
  • Psychological symptoms/conditions
  • Trafficking victims rarely receive routine health care, but research suggests that receiving emergency care might be fairly common (Baldwin, Eisenman, Sayles, Ryan and Chuang, 2011).
  • ER nurses are in a unique position
nursing perspective1
Nursing Perspective
  • Signs to look for
  • Signs to listen for
  • What to do

~ treat immediate medical needs

~ build rapport

~ separate from trafficker

~ obtain interpreter, if needed

(Cole, 2009; Dovydaitis, 2010).

nursing perspective2
Nursing Perspective
  • Medical exam- tattoos, GPS tracking devices (Peters, 2013).
  • Collect evidence (Peters, 2013).
  • Ask questions (Sabella, 2011).
  • Educate
  • Offer resources/assistance
  • Respect person’s decision
  • Must report if victim is under 18 years of age (Dovydaitis, 2010).
nursing perspective3
Nursing Perspective
  • Increase awareness
  • Develop procedures
  • Collaborate with law enforcement and service providers
criminal justice perspective
Criminal Justice Perspective
  • Trafficking Victims Protection Act-gives vital role to law enforcement
  • Environmental signs (Logan, Walker, Hunt, 2009)
  • Physical signs (U.S. Dept. of State, 2013; Ren, 2013; Sigmon, 2008).
  • Impact of trauma (David, 2007)
criminal justice perspective1
Criminal Justice Perspective
  • Ensure safety
  • Refrain from wearing uniform or having weapon in sight
  • Obtain interpreter if necessary
  • Make support services available
  • Build rapport

(U.S. Dept. of State, 2013)

criminal justice perspective2
Criminal Justice Perspective
  • Educate victims about the legal provisions afforded to them in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act
  • 2005 reauthorization (Ren, 2013)
  • Federal assistance benefits (Ren, 2013)
  • Restitution (Ren, 2013; Gallagher & Holmes, 2008)
criminal justice perspective3
Criminal Justice Perspective
  • Literature stresses the importance of collaboration between local and federal law enforcement and social service agencies (Wilson & Dalton, 2008)
  • Task forces and protocols for screening potential victims are recommended (Wilson, Walsh & Kleuber, 2006; Wilson & Dalton, 2008; Farrell et al., 2010)
criminal justice perspective4
Criminal Justice Perspective
  • Research-2 national studies and 1 in Georgia
  • Majority of law enforcement leaders indicated their staff had not received training on human trafficking and they did not have personnel specifically assigned to the issue (Wilson et al., 2006; Farrell et al. 2010; Grubb & Bennett, 2012)
social work perspective
Social Work Perspective
  • Values and skills are valuable assets in the fight against human trafficking
  • Likely to encounter survivors of trafficking (Macy & Graham, 2012; Stotts & Ramey, 2009)
  • Most critical needs of survivors (Macy & Johns, 2011; Busch-Armendariz, Nsonwu & Heffron, 2014)
social work perspective1
Social Work Perspective
  • Conduct needs assessment
  • Address safety and shelter needs
  • Case management and its benefits (Palmer, 2010; Macy & Johns, 2011; Busch-Armedariz et al., 2014; Caliber, 2007)
  • Utilize trauma-informed care practices when assisting survivors (Stotts & Ramey, 2009; Macy & Johns, 2011; Yakushko, 2009; Palmer, 2010)
social work perspective2
Social Work Perspective
  • Can identify gaps between needs and resources (Palmer, 2010)
  • Provide education to other professionals and community members (Kotrla, 2010; Androff, 2010; Okech et al., 2011; Palmer, 2010)
  • Conduct awareness campaigns (Okech et al., 2011)
  • Conduct outreach to vulnerable populations (Kotrla, 2010)
social work perspective3
Social Work Perspective
  • Address the legal, cultural and socioeconomic factors that sustain human trafficking (Hodge, 2008; Okech et al., 2011; Rijken, 2009)
ethical considerations
Ethical Considerations
  • NASW Code of Ethics
  • Human rights violation- United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Kant’s categorical imperative (Beauchamp & Childress, 2009)
  • Human trafficking violates Kant’s categorical imperative of respect for persons which is inherent in Declaration of Human Rights
ethical considerations1
Ethical Considerations
  • Trafficking Victims Protection Act places conditions on the rights of victims-hypothetical imperative (Logan et al., 2009)
  • Further consideration needs to be given to TVPA
  • Helping professionals can play a vital role in combating human trafficking
  • Nurses
  • Law enforcement
  • Social workers
  • Importance of collaboration
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international human rights challenge for social work. International

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  • Baldwin, S. B., Eisenman, D. P., Sayles, J. N., Ryan, G., & Chuang, K. S.

(2011). Identification of human trafficking victims in health care

settings. Health and Human Rights, 13(1), 1-14.

  • Beauchamp, T., & Childress, J. (2009). Principles of biomedical ethics (6th

ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Busch-Armendariz, N., Nsonwu, M. B., & Heffron, L. C. (2014). A

kaleidoscope: The role of the social work practitioner and the

strength of social work theories and practice in meeting the complex

needs of people trafficked and the professionals that work with them.

International Social Work, 57(1), 7-18. doi:10. 1177/0020872813505630

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human trafficking: Key findings and lesson learned. National Criminal

Justice Reference Service.

  • Cole, H. (2009). Human trafficking: Implications for the role of the

advanced practice forensic nurse. Journal of the American

Psychiatric Nurses Association,14, 462-470. doi:


  • David, F. (2007). Law enforcement responses to trafficking in persons:

Challenges and emerging good practice. Trends & Issues in Crime &

Criminal Justice, 347, 1-6.

  • Dovydaitis, T. (2010). Human trafficking: The role of the health care

provider. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 55(5), 462-467.

doi: 10. 1016/j.jmwh.2009.12.017

  • Farrell, A., McDevitt, J., & Fahy, S. (2010). Where are all the victims?

Understanding the determinants of official identification of human

trafficking incidents. Criminology & Public Policy, 9(2), 201-233.

  • Gallagher, A. & Holmes, P. (2008). Developing an effective criminal

justice response to human trafficking: Lessons from the front line.

International Criminal Justice Review, 18(3), 318-343. doi: 10.


  • Grubb, D. & Bennett, K. (2012). The readiness of local law enforcement

to engage in US anti-trafficking efforts: An assessment of human

trafficking training and awareness of local, county, and state law

enforcement agencies in the state of Georgia. Polcy, Practice and

Research, 13(6), 487-500. doi: 10.1080/15614263.2012.662815

  • Hodge, D. R. (2008). Sexual trafficking in the United States: A domestic

problem with transnational dimensions. Social Work, 53(2), 143-152.

  • Kotrla, K. (2010). Domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States.

Social Work, 55(2), 181-187.

  • Logan, T. K., Walker, R., & Hunt, G. (2009). Understanding human

trafficking in the United States. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 10(1), 3-30.

doi: 10.1177/1524838008327262

  • Macy, R. J., & Graham, L. M. (2012). Identifying domestic and

international sex-trafficking victims during human service provision.

Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 13(2), 59-76.


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trafficking survivors: Informing U.S. service and program development

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87-98. doi: 10.1177/1524838010390709

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and survivors of trafficking. ILSA Journal of International and

Comparative Law, 17(1), 43-56.

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power of emergency nurses to stop it. Journal of Emergency Nursing,

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trafficking: A harm reduction approach. International Perspectives in

Victimology, 7(2), 65-76.

  • Rijken, C. (2009). A human rights based approach to trafficking in human

beings. Security and Human Rights, 3, 212-222.

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American Journal of Nursing, 111(2), 28-37.

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identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking worldwide.

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awareness and action. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education

and Development, 48, 36-47.

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Retrieved from:

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Retrieved from:

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(2000, October 28). Retrieved from:


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beings: Training and services among law enforcement agencies.

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Contemporary Criminal Justice, 24(3), 296-313. doi: 10.


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