Featured Article| Volume 18, ISSUE 3, P285-288, March 2022

Overview of Recognition and Prevention of Child Sex Trafficking in the Primary Care Setting: A Primer for Nurse Practitioners

Published:January 17, 2022DOI:


      • Up to 80% of victims of child sex trafficking have an encounter with a health care provider.
      • Nurse practitioners (NPs) need to be knowledgeable in the recognition and assessment of child victims of sex trafficking.
      • NPs are in an ideal position to provide education and prevention strategies to caregivers to heighten awareness of risk factors.


      Child sex trafficking (CST) has become a global public health crisis and is a $150 billion criminal enterprise. Nurse practitioners are key in the recognition and prevention of CST in health care settings. Evidence demonstrates that up to 80% of CST victims have had a recent health care encounter. It is the role of the NP in practice to understand risk factors, screen for CST, and educate parents and caregivers on signs of victimization and prevention.


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      Brigit VanGraafeiland, DNP, CPNP-PC, CNE, is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, director of the Helene Fuld Leadership Program for the Advancement of Patient Safety and Quality, Baltimore, MD, and can be contacted at [email protected]


      Ellen M. Chiocca, PhD, CPNP, is an assistant professor, MU Sinclair School of Nursing University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.


      Diane H. Perks, DNP, is trauma program manager, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.


      Haley Dietzman, MS, FEP-BC, SANE-P, is a nurse practitioner on the child protection team at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Phoenix, AZ.


      Gail Horner, DNP, CPNP, SANE-P, International Association of Forensic Nurses, Columbus, OH.