Human Trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.
There are 40.3 million victims worldwide.
It can happen anywhere to anyone.
Many states have instituted required training for health professionals to identify situations that may occur in the healthcare facilities and should be reported to authorities.
In 2019, the Texas Legislature updated the Texas Occupations Code, Ch 116, which affects all health care professions who provide direct patient care listed under Texas Occupations Code Title 3. This required training beginning September 1, 2020 to obtain a new license or renew a current license. As health care practitioners, we are in the unique position to identify and intervene in human trafficking. The required course is meant to provide a variety of resources to inform and support response.
What does human trafficking look like? It’s generally under the radar. Targets can include vulnerable populations such as the homeless, runaways, domestic abuse survivors, substance abusers, and those in the commercial sex industry. Social media has opened new avenues for recruitment and identification. You don’t have to be in a third world country to find human trafficking, you can find it right here in your back yard.
The Texas-Mexico border is an approximate 2,000-mile line that is the most frequently crossed international border in the world, with 350 million documented crossings each year. In the year 2021, the number of undocumented immigrants mushroomed, and statistics are controversial. These people are highly susceptible to human trafficking. Many of them are young and vulnerable, even children.
Houston is high-risk because of the city’s location. It’s the center of the “Texas Triangle,” where three major interstate highways intersect. This region has high mobility and high volume. The Texas statistics are quite staggering; we rate a #2 among all 50 states (after California) in terms of human trafficking rates.
The news is filled with stories and just recently a man was shot and killed by his trafficking coyotes. Last April, 2021, a house in suburban Houston was reported by a neighbor for suspicious activity. Law enforcement responded and found 90 people trapped in a 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 2,329 square foot home. There was limited food and many were suffering from Covid-19.
Trafficking is a supply and demand business. Work to prevent trafficking and strengthen protection requires education and fighting the demand.
www.aheconline.com, Human Trafficking Prevention for Healthcare Personnel, available as an On Demand Home Study and in scheduled webinar format.