Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Sex trafficking victims are coming to your office: Can you recognize them? :

August 10, 2018

Editor's note:The 2018 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Nov. 2-6 in Orlando.

A medical school internship at a rape crisis center might be called a defining moment for Anish Raj, M.D. While there, he became aware of sex trafficking involving U.S. minors.

"I think for everyone, there comes a time where you become aware of something … and it’s impossible to look away," Dr. Raj said. "It sticks with you, and it certainly does light a fire. And I think this is a topic that had that effect on me."

Dr. Raj hopes to put this issue on pediatricians’ radar during his plenary talk titled "Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: A Frontline Pediatrician's Perspective (P3060)" from 11:30 a.m.-11:50 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5.

Dr. Raj will define domestic minor sex trafficking, discuss risk factors and dispel some misconceptions. 

Data show that children with a history of sexual abuse, child welfare involvement, substance abuse or psychiatric co-morbidities are more vulnerable.

However, "this can affect anyone, regardless of socioeconomic status, regardless of what walk of life a kid comes from," said Dr. Raj, liaison from the AAP Section on Pediatric Trainees to the Section on Child Abuse and Neglect.

Some groups estimate that about 20,000 U.S. minors are victims of domestic sex trafficking, while others put the prevalence at 100,000 to 200,000. What is not disputed is that victims live in every state.

"There is substantial evidence to suggest that we do as health care providers interface with these kids, but a lot of times we’re missing them,” said Dr. Raj, a fourth-year resident in pediatrics, adult psychiatry and child psychiatry at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island. “That goes against the popular notion that these kids are hidden or kept out of public view. They are coming to doctors’ offices. They are coming to hospitals, and unfortunately a lot of pediatricians and health care providers aren’t trained to recognize that."

During his presentation, Dr. Raj will discuss how pediatricians can identify victims and assist them using resources available in their community.

"At the end of the day, it would be ideal if people were at least motivated to explore those resources or services on their own after hearing the presentation, so this can light a fire to subsequently motivate folks to look into what’s being done at their individual, local, regional level," Dr. Raj said. "I think that would be fantastic."

For more coverage of the 2018 AAP National Conference & Exhibition visit and follow @AAPNews on Twitter and Facebook.

Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal