The current ANS featured article addresses a hidden, but urgent, threat to the health of children. The article is titled “School Nurses’ Awareness and Attitudes Toward Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children” authored by Hannah E. Fraley, PhD, RN; Teri Aronowitz, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, FAAN; and Emily J. Jones, PhD, RNC-OB. We are offering continuing education credit with this article because this type of challenge is significant for all nurses. This study reveals the key roles that nurses play in protecting the health and well-being of people who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. The article is available to download at no cost while it is featured, and we invite you to read it, and share your comments here! Dr. Fraley has shared this information about her work for ANS blog readers!
I am a nurse educator and scholar and am passionate about vulnerable populations, health disparities, health access, and human rights. With an extensive background in working with vulnerable women and children, I have developed a focused research program targeting youth
violence prevention and risk reduction. As I became aware of the nation-wide problem of child sex trafficking I knew that nurses are in such a pivotal position to be able to identify trafficking victims and intervene. Further, in my extensive study of child trafficking in the U.S. I was led to the unique and frontline role specifically of school nurses; school nurses have routine interaction with youth and are often the only health care provider youth interact with. I knew that school nurses can intervene and prevent child sexual exploitation, but also knew from studying the health care provider role that providers may lack awareness of child sex trafficking and also may have negative perceptions about youth who are most vulnerable impeding identification and intervention. Understanding that perceptions that we internally hold are shaped by our own life experiences and also shaped by societal and institutional influences became the backbone of my work with school nurses given youth who are most at risk of sexual exploitation are often those whom society, institutions, ourselves label as ‘difficult to work with’ or ‘trouble’. These children cross their school nurses’ path day in and day out and their exploitation may not be seen or recognized due to low awareness of sex trafficking coupled with shaped perceptions. This has become the driving force of my work aiming to build sustainable programs for school nurses and multidisciplinary school teams targeting prevention of commercial sexual exploitation of children.