Health Societies

Several medical societies and associations have taken stances publicly against human trafficking. Below are excerpts of these statements and links to the full reports, position statements, and policy declarations.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

“Child sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) are major public health problems in the United States and throughout the world. Despite large numbers of American and foreign youth affected and a plethora of serious physical and mental health problems associated with CSEC, there is limited information available to pediatricians regarding the nature and scope of human trafficking and how pediatricians and other health care providers may help protect children. Knowledge of risk factors, recruitment practices, possible indicators of CSEC, and common medical and behavioral health problems experienced by victims will help pediatricians recognize potential victims and respond appropriately. As health care providers, educators, and leaders in child advocacy, pediatricians play an essential role in addressing the public health issues faced by child victims of CSEC. Their roles can include working to increase recognition of CSEC, providing direct care and anticipatory guidance related to CSEC, engaging in collaborative efforts with medical and nonmedical colleagues to provide for the complex needs of youth, and educating child-serving professionals and the public.”- Abstract of “Child Sex Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Health Care Needs of Victims,” Pediatrics, March 2015.

See the full clinical report here.

American College of Emergency Physicians

Resolution 25 Human Trafficking:

“RESOLVED, That ACEP and its chapters work together to coordinate with other agencies and participate with existing initiatives (e.g., National Human Trafficking Initiative, State Attorney General’s coalition, law enforcement, etc.) and to coordinate with EMS agencies, hospitals, and other members of the emergency medicine team to provide education on awareness and resources available to help reduce and eliminate human trafficking; and be it further

RESOLVED, That ACEP and its chapters work together to ensure indemnification for providers reporting suspected cases of human trafficking to the appropriate authorities.”

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)

“Acknowledging the significant interplay of women’s human rights with the overall health of women and society, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) ardently support efforts to improve the dignity, autonomy, rights and health of women in the United States and globally. ACOG endorses the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) resolutions regarding the rights of women, the relationship of these rights to human rights, and the social responsibility obstetrician-gynecologists have to promote and protect women’s health in their individual and professional encounters. To this end, ACOG commits to encourage and uphold policies and action in the United States and across the world to assure that women have:

8. The right to decide when and if to have sex, including choosing one’s partner, and freedom from coerced marriage and sex trafficking.” – Excerpt from Statement of Policy, July 2012.

See the full policy statement here.

American Medical Association (AMA)

“Our AMA encourages its Member Groups and Sections, as well as the Federation of Medicine, to raise awareness about human trafficking and inform physicians about the resources available to aid them in identifying and serving victims of human trafficking.

Physicians should be aware of the definition of human trafficking and of resources available to help them identify and address the needs of victims.” –

See the full physician’s response here.

American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)

“The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) condemns human trafficking and considers it an egregious human rights violation. While human trafficking is a global issue, this AMWA Position Paper addresses the problem of the trafficking of women and girls for commercial sex exploitation in the United States (US) in an effort to provide information and recommendations for physicians and other healthcare providers who may be in a unique position to identify and care for these victims.” – Excerpt from “Position Paper on the Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in the United States,” May 2014.

See the full position paper here.

American Nurses Association (ANA)

“Nurses can and should engage in open discussion and public debate to seek resolution in situations where violations of human rights are evident. Human trafficking is an often hidden example of violating human rights. It occurs when vulnerable persons are exploited in sex industries or labor markets. Nurses are in a perfect position to intervene and advocate for these victims when they encounter them in clinics, emergency rooms or community health centers.”- Excerpt from “The Nurse’s Role in Ethics and Human Rights: Protecting and Promoting Individual Worth, Dignity, and Human Rights in Practice Settings,” June 14, 2010.

See the full position statement here.

American Psychological Association (APA)

“BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association:

Commits itself to promoting public awareness of the presence of human trafficking consistent with its mission;

Commends individuals, nongovernmental organizations, and governments that are working to create public awareness of human trafficking, to prevent human trafficking and to emancipate trafficked persons, and to assist them in obtaining human services and health care including attention to their psychological needs;

Urges funded research on the social and cultural underpinnings of human trafficking, ways to assist trafficked persons, and research into psychological treatments and educational needs for trafficked persons, consist with their unique circumstances; and

Urges the United States government, state and local governments, foreign governments, and international non-governmental organizations to work assiduously to end human trafficking and to assist its victims.” – Excerpt from “APA Resolution on Emancipating and Assisting Victims of Human Trafficking,” 2009.

See the full resolution here.

American Public Health Association

Abstract: “Human trafficking is a global problem affecting the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. People subjected to human trafficking are known to suffer from myriad mental and physical health problems secondary to the physical and psychological abuses inherent to the human trafficking experience. Victims and survivors should be able to turn to health professionals for assistance, but currently such services are not reliably available. The majority of health care providers have not received education that would help them identify and care for trafficked persons. Furthermore, there is a dearth of data on the characteristics and health needs of this diverse population and the best methods of prevention and intervention. This policy statement calls for professional schools, societies, and certifying bodies to improve training of licensed health professionals and to integrate human trafficking into existing curricula on intimate partner violence, domestic violence, and child and elder abuse. Moreover, private organizations and state and federal agencies should increase funding for responsible and necessary research at the intersection of public health and human trafficking. Such research should explore issues related to prevention of victimization and perpetration as well as appropriate intervention. Finally, research, training, and anti-trafficking community interventions should be survivor centered and trauma informed so as to facilitate the best possible survivor-oriented outcomes.” (November, 2015)

See full policy statement here.

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

Nurses are ideally positioned to screen, identify, care for, provide referral services for, and support victims of human trafficking. Therefore, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) supports improved education and awareness for nurses regarding human trafficking. Patients should be screened for human trafficking in private, safe, health care settings. If there is a language barrier, professional interpreter services are imperative. To protect the safety of women who have been trafficked, AWHONN opposes laws and other policies that require nurses to report the results of screening to law enforcement or other regulatory agencies without the consent of the woman who experiences the human trafficking. However, nurses and other health care professionals should be familiar with laws for mandatory reporting in their states, especially for minors, and comply as applicable.

Read the full position statement here.

Emergency Nurses Association

“These victims of trafficking have limited access to healthcare and often may only have a single encounter with healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, many healthcare workers have limited awareness of human trafficking and the characteristics of those it victimizes. Limited availability of emergency department-specific screening tools and limited legislated reporting requirements, together with the barriers to patients disclosing their involvement in trafficking, make it difficult to identify these patients and provide the proper care and advocacy. Emergency nurses have a unique opportunity to recognize and intervene on behalf of victims of human trafficking. In fact, nurses may often be the only trusted individuals who can connect with trafficking victims, a hard-to-reach population at risk for injuries similar to those found with victims of domestic violence and rape.” – Excerpt from “Human Trafficking Patient Awareness in the Emergency Setting,” February 2015.

See the full position statement here.

New York State Nurse’s Association:
Position Statement on Human Trafficking

The intent of this position statement is to heighten awareness, encourage education among Registered Professional Nurses and all healthcare providers regarding human trafficking; and to enhance nursing’s ability to advocate for public safety.

The RN has the responsibility to:

  • Advocate for patients, families and significant others who may be inadvertently involved with traffickers;
  • Advocate for the rights of the patient to receive adequate healthcare free of coercion from the trafficker;
  • Advocate for the recovery and release of the trafficking victim through the available resources;
  • Active participation in state and national initiatives that research, disseminate and demonstrate standards and codes that impact governments who do little or nothing to prevent and prohibit trafficking;
  • Know the available resources or where to find such resources in the event of reasonable suspicion of a victim of trafficking;
  • Document the subjective and objective assessment of the potential victim according to policy to ensure adequate information in collection of evidence;
  • Seek continued education and competency in areas of forensic nursing and certification in areas of violence towards women, such as Sexual Assault Nurses Examination.

Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health 

“NPWH supports a comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to meet sex-trafficked individuals’ complex needs and help them address the challenges they face. To that end, NPWH supports research initiatives to develop a validated screening tool to better identify patients who are victims of sex trafficking, as well as to better understand the most effective manner in which to meet their emergency, short-term, and long-term healthcare needs. Legislation and regulatory policies should focus on eliminating the demand for trafficked individuals in the first place, and on targeting persons and agencies that condone human trafficking. NPWH supports the development of legislation, regulatory policies, and advocacy efforts that protect the safety, rights, dignity, and cultural values of trafficked individuals. NPWH will provide leadership and collaborate with other organizations and agencies to deliver NP education, develop policies, and conduct or support research in a concerted effort to increase knowledge and provide resources for NPs to identify, assess, and respond to the needs of trafficked female individuals.” (January 2017)

Read the full position statement here.