MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A Milwaukee hospital is working to teach medical providers how to identify and help children who may be victims of trafficking and exploitation.
Professor of adolescent medicine Dr. Wendi Ehrman and associate professor of pediatrics Dr. Angela Rabbitt at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin have spearheaded initiatives to teach medical professionals about the problem, Milwaukee Public Radio reported.
"Most youth, at some point, need to obtain health care. So we may be the first ones that these kids come into contact with that can learn to recognize what's going on and be suspicious," Eherman said.
The FBI said Milwaukee has a serious trafficking problem, particularly when it comes to adolescents.
The city's location near a big city like Chicago and a city like Green Bay that frequently has sporting events may contribute to trafficking being such an issue, Rabbitt said.
"I also think that some of the things that Milwaukee struggles with, like poverty and discrimination, and a lot of psychosocial issues among some of the families, contributes a lot to the issues we see here," Ehrman said.
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Rabbitt said a peer-reviewed article she found shows a lack of medical guidelines for caring for victims of human trafficking. She said she hopes increased awareness will help medical professionals better recognize trafficking.
Ehrman said medical professionals are in a unique position to help victims and educate them about their situation.
"Sometimes youth, they don't even understand what's happening to them. They don't realize that it's exploitation. So even asking the question and screening can be a way of educating them," Ehrman said.