emergencyDo you have the opportunity to meet new people each day? I meet people from all walks of life and I learn something from everyone of them, whether they’re survivors, doctors, lawyers or teenagers. Everyone has something to share if you’re willing to listen.

The more I learn about sex trafficking, the more I realize I need to learn. It is so multifaceted and there are many people to educate on the issue. While I know a lot about the issue of sex trafficking, I do not know a lot about the medical world. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit with a physician’s assistant who has a heart to fight for trafficking victims. She is also the mother of young children, so her time is very limited. She used her skill set to help fight the issue. She developed an educational tool for medical professionals to raise their awareness of the issue and equip them to identify potential victims using indicators that may manifest in an examination.

According to Jeff Shaw, founder of Out of Darkness, research indicates 88% of trafficking victims seen in the emergency room go undetected. Due to lack of training, victims walk in and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices without being identified and assisted.

Medical personnel, educators, and law enforcement officers are categorized as first responders, those who are likely to come in contact with victims or potential victims of sex trafficking. They have a rare opportunity, if properly equipped, to identify victims or potential victims and intervene. However, without training, they may view the victim as a wayward student, clumsy patient, or menace to society.

Some of the very things that indicate trafficking, if viewed in isolation, will point to an individual who is a problem instead of someone facing one.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides literature for medical personnel on the issue. Organizations like Out of Darkness provide training for health care professionals. Street Grace, in Atlanta, Georgia is in the process of launching a training module for educators on the issue, equipping them to recognize the indicators for what they are and helping students. A21 Campaign is developing curriculum for teachers to implement in the high school classroom. Some law enforcement offices are being trained at the state and local level; however, there is still more to be done in all of these areas.

Proverbs 31:8 says,

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

You can do this by writing to your county commissioners and state legislature demanding training for your law enforcement, fire fighters, and EMTs so they’re equipped to identify and assist sex trafficking victims. Contact your local school board and let them know you want to see school officials, administrators, counselors and teachers trained on the indicators and protocols for potential victims, as well as curriculum for students. Contact your local hospital and inquire about the training they provide for their personnel on this issue.

It is going to take everyone working together to rid our nation of this atrocity. You can fight this issue without ever leaving your home, simply by writing letters and making phone calls. They could be the difference between a rescue or a life of mental, physical and sexual abuse. Can you spare twenty minutes today? Raise your voice for hope.