Staying informed and safe

Lisa Moler talks about the horrible crime of human trafficking and how dental offices can recognize and take safe steps to help these patients.

Recently, I saw a movie called “The Sound of Freedom,” the story of Tim Ballard, a federal agent who quits his job with the Department of Homeland Security to start his own independent team to rescue child trafficking victims. One of the movie’s executive producers is Tony Robbins. Tony has been a mentor and inspiration to me. The movie was emotional and moving for me, watching (as Tony describes on his website), “the harrowing experiences faced by victims of human trafficking and the relentless dedication of those fighting to dismantle these dark criminal networks, which continue to enslave millions of children globally each year.”

Human trafficking is not just a movie. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notes, “Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide — including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community, and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality.” Violence, manipulation, false promises of well-paying jobs, and even the promise of romantic relationships can lead to imprisonment of these innocent, frightened victims. DHS adds, “Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, making human trafficking a hidden crime.”

At-risk victims may be hiding in plain sight. Dental professionals may not realize that patients who visit their offices may be impacted by this terrible crime. Because of signs and symptoms of human trafficking, dentists may be able to help a victim of human trafficking during the course of the dental visit. Several states mandate that dentists need a human trafficking continuing education course to renew their licenses. In these courses, dentists learn details such as:

  • Work-settings that may employ trafficking victims.
  • Physical and psychological clues that the patient may be being trafficked.
  • Some key words that the victim or perpetrator may say to the dentist to avoid being identified as a trafficking situation.
  • Reasons why a victim may try to avoid being identified.
  • Oral injuries that may indicate a trafficking victim.
  • Resources for intervention specialists in human trafficking.
  • What steps the clinician can take if the patient is identified as a trafficking victim.

The DHS says that in helping these victims, the healthcare professional also needs to pay careful attention to the safety of themselves and their teams. They warn, “Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.”

Back to our fall issue, for our CEs, Dr. Sunny Jisun Lee outlines the benefits of 3D printing and offers some tips on getting started. For those considering adding sleep therapies to their practices, Dr. David E. McCarty’s CE gives a high-five to “The five finger approach to sleep-wake complaints,” a way of communicating the complex topic of sleep medicine to patients. Our Cover Story, by Dr. Sima Yakoby Epstein, discusses how to add compassion to orthodontics and redefine how orthodontists treat emergencies and reduce patients’ stress by putting some helpful and innovative products in their goodie bags.

In my Publisher’s Perspective column, I always share topics that are important to my growth not just as a publisher and entrepreneur, but also as a human being. Human trafficking is an outrageous and evil crime. Take a CE class on this topic to know warning signs and also to stay safe. Human trafficking “exists nationwide — in cities, suburbs, and rural towns — and possibly in your own community,” says DHS. Be aware, smart, and cautious — as you help patients to survive and thrive.


To your best success,

Lisa Moler
MedMark Media

Lisa Moler strives to help people of all ages and experiences — her columns cover her passions from helping patients with sleep apnea to recognizing the signs of human trafficking in the dental office. Read more about Lisa here:

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