Nurses play a crucial role in eradicating the crime of DMST through identification of, intervention strategies and advocacy for the victims (McClain & Garrity, 2011). The most common health care settings where victims utilize services include the emergency room, obstetrics and gynecology, urgent care and the school nurse’s office (Miller, 2013). In a study conducted on youth affected by DMST, 82% had seen a medical provider within the last six months (Greenbaum, 2014).
In response to these statistics, nurses must serve as the forefront of recognition and intervention because they often interact with these victims while they are still under the control of their trafficker (Miller, 2013). Awareness and education about DMST within the nursing profession is imperative because this topic is not only a public health issue, but a moral and ethical issue as well. Research Further nursing research on the topic of child sex trafficking in the U. S. is essential for the profession as a whole to understand the extent and epidemiology of this problem (Merrick & Latzman, 2014).
Additional research should focus on identified gaps in data collection, such as the unknown number of identified DMST victims. Many studies note that it is nearly impossible to achieve an exact number of victims, due to a multitude of factors, including limited ability to track victims, misidentification and unreported incidences (Finklea et al. , 2015). Nurses should conduct research regarding systems and programs to improve the efficacy of tracking newly identified victims and survivors of DMST.
Exploring the possibility of nurses collaborating with Child Protective Services, in the effort of tracking and identification, to create procedures that result in appropriate reports and documentation of DMST incidences within the health care setting. Additionally, evidence-based protocols for identification and response have been minimally researched and developed (Chaffee & English, 2015). Research may be performed to develop a concrete identification tool that can be used in hospitals and healthcare settings nationwide.
Recognition of victims may be challenging, therefore consistency in nursing practice may be considered a breakthrough for the identification and treatment of these victims. Identification tools should include a thorough history, presenting signs and symptoms and appropriate screening questions (Chaffee & English, 2015). Policy In 2008, the American Nurses Association took a significant step in bringing DMST into the nursing profession’s focus. The presenting measure addressed the human trafficking as well as sex trafficking as a major public health issue (Miller, 2013).
Nurses in all settings must recognize the magnitude of this issue. Using a victim-centered approach when handling victims of DMST, it is essential to advocate for the patient. Focusing on rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of these victims (McClain & Garrity, 2011). As nurses focus on the immediate needs of these victims, it is also important to view DMST as whole, recognizing where the problem originates. Nurses must advocate for additional resources to be provided for vulnerable youth, such as substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling, housing assistance, social services and job training (McClain & Garrity, 2011).
Creating public awareness is another way nurses can advocate for these victims. Change does not always need to be made through elaborate rescues and large trafficking busts, which is how the issue of DMST is commonly portrayed on the news. Less sensational work, such as reducing the number of at risk youth and creating awareness of the economic and social disparities these populations encounter may contribute immensely to the eradication of DMST (Duger, 2015).
Proper identification and response to DMST victims are fundamental aspects of practice that can be implemented by nurses to contribute to the reduction and potential elimination of child sex trafficking. Proper recognition and identification of these victims is essential to provide interventions. Therefore, nurses must remain alert, looking for warning signs and cues that victims may present with, such as being accompanied by dominant person, dishonesty about their age and inconsistencies in illness and injury.
After identification has occurred, the nurse must converse with the victim in a confidential area to provide a safe environment for disclosure of information. Informing the security department of the hospital and local law enforcement is the next step in this process. Maintaining a low profile throughout this process is crucial to ensure the patient’s safety (Miller, 2013). Furthermore, nurses need to be familiar and up to date regarding state laws related to mandatory reporting of incidences of sex trafficking (McClain & Garrity, 2011).
Most often, if the victim is under the age of 18 it is mandatory by state and federal law to report the incident to the police and Child Protective Services (Hickle & Roe-Sepowitz, 2014). Overall, nurses with an increased knowledge on the topic, who are implementing proper screening tools and intervention strategies will help to reduce the risk that incidences of DMST continue to go unreported (McClain & Garrity, 2011). Education Many incidences of DMST have gone unreported due to the lack of education and training, regarding identification and intervention, that health care providers receive (Chaffee & English, 2015).
The incorporation of education on the topic of DMST into nursing curriculum may help to create nurses who are skilled in recognition and victim identification, contributing to the ultimate goal to eliminate child sex slavery (McClain & Garrity, 2011). Proper research based education programs, practice simulations and best practices regarding DMST should be included in nursing curriculum, to teach nurses to be able to appropriately recognize, intervene and refer victims when necessary (Miller, 2013).
Integration of information and statistics regarding DMST should be applied to the community portion of nursing curriculum because this is a glaring health and human rights issue. Additionally, nurses must have an adequate knowledge base on the warning signs and clinical presentation of these victims, such as sexually transmitted infections, physical injuries, pregnancy, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, poor hygiene or nutritional status.
A nurse who effectively identifies a victim of DMST can provide interventions to improve the physical and mental health of the patient (McClain & Garrity, 2011). Proper training and continued education courses concerning the procedure that is to be followed in the event that a DMST victim is identified, such as who to report to, what screening tools should be used and appropriate referral services specific to each victim.