About Us

The Institute on Healthcare and Human Trafficking operates within the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The institute is a collaboration between the Center for Safe and Healthy Children, the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development within the School of Public Health at Georgia State University and the Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The mission of the institute is to improve the lives of children and families affected by human trafficking by increasing and enhancing behavioral health and medical care through research, training and education. It acts as a central resource for medical and behavioral health professionals seeking information on sex and labor trafficking involving children and adults.

The goals of the institute are to:

  1. Raise awareness among health professionals about labor and sex trafficking of children and adults.
  2. Increase the ability of health professionals to recognize potential victims and respond appropriately.
  3. Contribute to the body of research on human trafficking.

The institute:

  • Provides a clearinghouse of existing resources and research for prevention, identification, intervention and treatment.
  • Offers online and on-site training and education to medical and behavioral health professionals working with adults and children.
  • Provides a calendar of events related to human trafficking within the U.S.
  • Provides technical assistance to health professionals seeking to design office, clinic and/or hospital protocols or develop programs on human trafficking.
  • Conducts research on human trafficking.

Scope of human trafficking

Reliable estimates of the prevalence of human trafficking are difficult to ascertain, given the criminal nature of the activity, differing definitions of ‘human trafficking’, the lack of a centralized database, under-reporting by victims, and various methodological challenges encountered in research. Globally, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and others estimated that 24.9 million people were victims of forced labor in 2016 (including forced labor in the private economy, state-imposed forced labor, and forced sexual exploitation of adult/child commercial sexual exploitation); 18% of these were children (4.5 million). Of the 15.4 million living in a forced marriage; 37% (5.7 million) were children. Approximately 1 million children were victims of commercial sexual exploitation in 2016 (excluding forced marriage).24 However, it is important to keep in mind that any estimate of prevalence must be accompanied by an understanding of the inherent challenges involved with measurement, and the likely inaccuracies associated with those challenges.

Reference: International Labour Organization. Global estimates of modern slavery: Forced labour and forced marriage. International Labour Organization, Geneva, Switzerland; Available here; Accessed on Dec 12, 2017.

Human trafficking as a public health issue

Viewing human trafficking through a public health lens, we can utilize a multidisciplinary approach to identify and characterize the individual, relationship, community and societal vulnerabilities that facilitate victimization. Based on methodologically rigorous and sound research we can design and scientifically evaluate programs, strategies and policies of prevention and intervention. A public health framework acknowledges that human trafficking affects a large population, directly or indirectly, and impacts the health and well-being of the society. It encourages the use of limited resources to target those at highest risk. In addition, a public health approach recognizes that we cannot combat human trafficking in a vacuum. We must simultaneously address other major problems that marginalize our community members and increase their vulnerability: poverty, substance use, mental health disorders and community violence, to name but a few.

Public health response

Our goal is to address human trafficking with a public health response. We offer healthcare professionals resources for primary and secondary prevention, through training, education, technical assistance, a clearinghouse of resources and ongoing research on human trafficking.

The importance of training

Research suggests that a high percentage of victims will, at some point during their exploitation, seek medical care. In one study of adolescent and adult sex trafficking survivors in the U.S., 88 percent reported seeking attention from a healthcare provider(1). It is imperative that medical and behavioral healthcare professionals, including physicians, psychologists, nurses, advanced practitioners, counselors and social workers, are educated about human trafficking and prepared to recognize potential victims and respond appropriately. There is a need for a centralized resource for healthcare providers to obtain high-quality education and training about human trafficking, as well as easily access resources from a wide variety of sources. The Institute for Healthcare and Human Trafficking is that resource.

  1. Lederer LJ, 2014, Annals Health Law.


What’s New in the Field of Human Trafficking

The U.S. State Department released the annual ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’ (TIP) in June 2018, detailing a global assessment of governmental efforts to combat human trafficking during the prior year. In these TIP reports, each country provides information that is used to assess the degree to which governmental measures in that country fulfill the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which are generally consistent with the United Nations Palermo Protocol. Countries may be assigned any of 4 tiers, indicating a range from full compliance with the TVPA minimum standards (Tier 1), to a failure to meet standards without making significant efforts to do so (Tier 3). This year’s TIP report also highlights proactive community efforts to combat human trafficking around the world; the importance of a trauma-informed approach to interacting with trafficked persons, and human trafficking in the context of child institutionalization.

View the 2018 TIP Report

Browse through our resource database

General Adult Human Trafficking

General Child Sex Trafficking

Medical Education and Human Trafficking

Request for Training

To request training for your staff, or technical assistance in developing your organizational response to human trafficking, please contact Jordan Greenbaum, MD, or call 404-785-3829.


The Institute on Healthcare and Human Trafficking is funded by a generous grant from the Junior League of Atlanta.