The Impact of Coronavirus on Human Trafficking

The Novel Coronavirus caused various direct and indirect threats to the physical health, wellbeing, mental state, and livelihood of millions of people—and the hidden impacts of the pandemic are still yet to be discovered. One of the emerging effects is the impact on human trafficking. The pandemic exacerbated the effects on vulnerable populations such as children, the homeless, single parents, and disabled individuals (*1). Increased financial stress, food insecurity, interpersonal violence, and grief over the loss of loved ones have been shown to lead to a greater instance of survival sexual or labor exploitation.

The pandemic poses a double threat to children for sexual exploitation. First, the closure of schools and sheltering-in-place mandates left children in abusive homes. Children are left with limited choices to either stay or run away and become homeless. Hospitals and urgent care clinics indicated an increased volume of children with injuries caused by abuse (*1). Second, children and adolescents have been spending an increased amount of time on social media, where traffickers are “fishing”—actively looking for potential victims. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported increased online exploitation reports from 2 million to 4.2 million from March to April 2020 (*1).

For those already were already trafficked when COVID-19 hit, their chances of survival and rescue were significantly worsened. The overburden in emergency rooms with COVID cases limited healthcare professionals’ opportunities to identify victims (*1). For most victims, the emergency room settings served as access to resources. Many rescue missions and preventative programs have been stopped nationwide due to the pandemic (*2). To appropriately respond to increased labor and sex trafficking, utilization of evidence-based and accommodation for specific needs will be needed as an aftermath of COVID.

If you suspect human trafficking, please call National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

To access local resources in California state, please refer to the Resources Center at the CCFMTC website.

References

(*1) Todres, J., Diaz, A. (2021). COVID-19 and human trafficking-the amplified impact on vulnerable populations. JAMA Pediatrics; 175 (2): 123-124. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.3610

(*2) Little Hoover Commission (June 2020). Human trafficking: coordinating a California response file:///D:/Practicum%20and%20Grad%20Paper/APE%20Assignments%20and%20Docs/Report%20on%20HT%20from%20Little%20Hoover%20Commission-%20Dec.17,2020.pdf

Congratulations to Galina Prozorova!

Galina was notified today she was selected to receive the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Health Equity Award, an Annual Rural Health Conference Scholarship, and Annual Student Membership. She will receive the award on May 4th through a virtual ceremony.

A. T. Still University of Missouri Department of Public Health, the medical school where she is completing her master’s degree, nominated Galina to recognize her work in human trafficking and child exploitation in rural communities.

She will be presenting why human trafficking is a public health and international issue at the ceremony next week.

We are proud of you Galina, keep up your outstanding work in human trafficking.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Sean Dugan has joined CCFMTC as our Medical Director

Dr. Dugan is an accomplished physician and is a:

  • Board-Certified Pediatrician
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Credentialed Adult/Pediatric Forensic Medical Examiner
  • General Child Abuse Pediatrician
  • Medical Doctor/Director of Forensic Services of the Shasta Community Forensic Care Team
  • Served as an instructor for both CCFMTC Adult and Pediatric Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) training courses
  • Employed Full-time at Shasta Community Health Center in Redding (since 2012)

His areas of expertise include:

  • Child and Family Maltreatment
  • ACEs
  • Physical/Sexual/Emotional Child Abuse and Neglect, Domestic Violence, Strangulation, Traumatic Brain Injury, Elder Abuse, and Human Trafficking

After taking charge of the pediatric sexual assault medical team in 2016, Dr. Dugan:

  • Founded the SCAN (Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect) program in 2017
  • Authored the SCAN policy that was implemented at many hospitals and clinics across Northern California
    • Expanded the program to include adults in 2019 and is the founder of the Shasta Community Forensic Care Team
  • Founding member of the Children’s Legacy Center, the first Child Advocacy Center in Shasta County
  • Board Chair of Pathways to Hope for Children aka the Shasta County Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Council
  • Founder of the Strangulation/Domestic Violence Clinic at One Safe Place
  • Member of the Helfer Society
  • Faculty and member of the Medical Advisory Committee for the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention
    • Conducted several nationwide and international trainings on Strangulation and Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Serves as the Medical Director for the Siskiyou, Shasta, and Tehama Sexual Assault Response Teams

Welcome Dr. Dugan! We are proud to have you as part of the CCFMTC Team.