Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Training Medical Professionals to Serve Commercially and Sexually Exploited Youth

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

April 11, 2012








There has been an increased acknowledgment that youth in the U.S. are commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked (CSEDT).

Exploited youth, if they receive health care services at all, are most likely to get care in emergency departments (EDs). These youth report that traffickers were only likely to allow them to receive care if their need was urgent. Thus, frontline ED personnel can be critical touch points for CSEDT youth as they are able to physically separate them from their traffickers during medical care. This provides medical professionals with an intervention opportunity to identify, have meaningful conversations with, and provide critical resources to CSEDT youth in a safe and confidential setting. However, because of a lack of awareness and training on the issue, many providers are currently unable to do this. This project improved identification of CSEDT youth in emergency departments and increased referrals to needed services.

Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS) provided training and technical assistance to 100 emergency department personnel in five New York City hospitals. GEMS also implemented a sustainable and replicable train-the-trainer curriculum to enhance ED personnel’s ability to intervene with CSEDT youth by providing customized training to ED physicians, triage nurses, reception staff, and chief residents, who then trained other residents on the information GEMS provides. Similar to the integration of domestic violence and child abuse screenings into emergency care, GEMS integrated screenings for CSEDT into routine emergency care. Hospital partners for this project, which have all provided letters of support, included St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals, Bellevue Hospital Center, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, Harlem Hospital Center, and Queens Hospital Center.