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.
"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
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."