Global Human Trafficking and Child Victimization
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Trafficking of children for labor and sexual exploitation violates basic human rights and constitutes a major global public health problem. Pediatricians and other health care professionals may encounter victims who present with infections, injuries, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidality, or a variety of other physical or behavioral health conditions. Preventing child trafficking, recognizing victimization, and intervening appropriately require a public health approach that incorporates rigorous research on the risk factors, health impact, and effective treatment options for child exploitation as well as implementation and evaluation of primary prevention programs. Health care professionals need training to recognize possible signs of exploitation and to intervene appropriately. They need to adopt a multidisciplinary, outward-focused approach to service provision, working with nonmedical professionals in the community to assist victims. Pediatricians also need to advocate for legislation and policies that promote child rights and victim services as well as those that address the social determinants of health, which influence the vulnerability to human trafficking. This policy statement outlines major issues regarding public policy, medical education, research, and collaboration in the area of child labor and sex trafficking and provides recommendations for future work.
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