WV AG offers training to detect Human Trafficking
Since 2007, 305 contacts have been made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in reference to suspected human trafficking in West Virginia. Of those contacts, 87 cases of human trafficking were reported. Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. It is considered the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to drug trafficking according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And in West Virginia, there is strong evidence that it is tied closely to the opioid epidemic and in some cases perpetrated knowingly by family members.
During a training session at Charleston Area Medical Center on Friday, October 12th West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office provided pediatric physicians, nurses and allied health professionals with intense training to target and reduce human trafficking. The training was part of CAMC’s Pediatric Conference 2018.
“Medical professionals can be key in recognizing human trafficking,” Attorney General Morrisey said in a press release. “They are among a small number of people a victim may encounter who can recognize and report suspected trafficking as they provide treatment following an injury or abuse. Without rescue these victims are reduced to property and forced into dangerous situations that may go undetected for years.”
The training was part of a broader initiative to educate physicians, nurses, emergency medical technicians and others across West Virginia on identifying the warning signs of human trafficking.
“Charleston Area Medical Center receives patients from all over West Virginia, with a substantial portion being from rural counties,” said Susan Russell, nurse manager of pediatrics, PICU, EEG and the Children’s Cancer Center. “The need for medical professionals to be knowledgeable on how to identify victims of human trafficking is at an all-time high. The Pediatric Conference brings in attendees from all over the state and includes medical professionals from Physicians, Registered Nurses, EMS and others. The ability to present this information and education at the conference will enable those in attendance the ability to recognize, report and offer options in a safe environment which in turn will assist in the fight to stop this heinous crime.”
Changes in West Virginia law inspired the Attorney General to take the lead in combating this emerging crime. His office has conducted similar training sessions across the state for social service and child protective service workers, law enforcement, prosecutors, educators and the community at large.
West Virginia’s increased rate of drug addiction, poverty and its large number of children in foster care make the state especially susceptible to human trafficking. Morrisey’s office said the Attorney General believes the training offered by his office will equip attendees with the necessary resources to better identify suspicious activity and tackle this growing criminal industry.
For more information about the National Human Trafficking Hotline, please visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org.