Topic: People

Reducing the Trauma of Child Sex Trafficking Victims – Q&A with Denise Abdoo

Children and youth who are victims of sex trafficking often experience high levels of trauma, which can have profound negative impacts on their physical, emotional and psychological well-being for decades. When working with these individuals, it is essential for child welfare professionals to recognize this past trauma and create supportive recovery environments.

As a joint program with the Child Protection Team and the Pediatric Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital Colorado, there is now a dedicated team of pediatric and adolescent focused registered nurses who provide comprehensive care to victims of sexual assault and trafficking. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) nurses provide acute sexual assault care with a trained eye toward the sensitivities of working with adolescents and young adults. They support our young patients through sensitive and timely examinations, connecting patients with legal and mental health resources, infectious disease treatment and more.

We recently connected with Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, SANE-A, SANE-P, who leads the SANE team and asked her to share more about how they work to protect child and youth victims of sex trafficking.

Tell us more about the SANE team.

Currently, there are 13 registered nurses on the SANE team. We require a minimum of two years nursing experience along with additional education and training to be prepared to perform forensic examinations. Additionally, the SANE nurses provide expert witness testimony in court. Our team works closely with local law enforcement agencies and the Colorado Department of Human Services regarding trafficking activities within the community.

How do you know if someone is being trafficked?

When a patient is brought to the hospital or comes in for treatment, they don’t usually tell us they are being sexually exploited. We are trained to ask specific questions and look for signs of trafficking. Sexually exploited youth include male and female patients, from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Many of the sexually exploited youth are identified as high-risk youth, including victims of prior abuse, homeless children, runaways, those who were forced out of the home, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community, those with a history of substance abuse, prior legal involvement, and those within the foster care or welfare systems.

What can we do if we suspect child sex trafficking in our community?

Recognize it. And then report your concerns to the appropriate authorities. If you are a parent, family member or friend who is concerned that a child is being trafficked – or if you have a suspicion that someone you know is trafficking – you should reach out to your county’s human services department first. You can also call Colorado’s statewide child abuse hotline, 1-800-CO-4-KIDS, and they will connect you to the appropriate resources.

Kempe Professionals Named “Top Docs” by 5280

The Kempe Foundation is proud to support experts in the field who work day in and day out to provide extraordinary care to children in our community. This year, three doctors from the Kempe Center were once again included on 5280 magazine’s list of “Top Docs.” The list recognizes professionals from 95 specialities who were nominated by their peers.

We would like to congratulate the following Kempe Center doctors who were recognized in their area of specialty, Child Abuse Pediatrics.

Dr. Andrew Sirotnak

Dr. Antonia Chiesa

Dr. Kathryn Wells

A Message from Rep. Lois Landgraf

“It absolutely breaks my heart to think that kids will be mistreated and abused. I encourage anyone who sees something troubling to speak up and report it.”

Motivated daily by her six wonderful grandchildren, Representative Landgraf is determined to protect and strengthen the well-being of Colorado’s children. As the representative for Southern El Paso County which includes Fort Carson, she is focused on the mental health impacts that military deployments have on local families.

Rep. Landgraf is a sponsor of House Bill 1078, which would provide veterans with access to mental health treatment to help support their return to civilian life. This transition is stressful for every member of the family, and can often lead to higher instances of child abuse. Rep. Landgraf is also working on House Bill 1021, which would establish a task force for youth experiencing homelessness.

Watch the video below to hear more from Rep. Landgraf.

Announcing the 2018 Kempe Award Honorees

On March 15, The Kempe Foundation will honor two individuals at our signature Imagine 2018 Luncheon – Reggie Bicha and Linda Alvarado. Both of this year’s honorees are commended for their dedication to children through professional and personal accomplishments and commitments. We are grateful to have both of these individuals as long-time supporters of Kempe and leaders in our community.

2018 Kempe Professional Award Honoree Reggie Bicha serves as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Human Services. Since his appointment to this role in 2011, Mr. Bicha has engaged in bold initiatives to redesign and refocus the delivery of human services. Under his leadership, CDHS has attracted national attention for its innovation and leadership. In addition, Mr. Bicha has led major advances in the delivery of child welfare services, established a statewide mental health crisis response system, retooled juvenile justice using trauma-informed approaches and employed a 2Gen approach to fight poverty. Mr. Bicha is being recognized for his unparalleled commitment to human services and to the health and well-being of our local community.

2018 Kempe Imhoff Family Community Award Honoree Linda Alvarado is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Alvarado Construction, Inc. In addition to her many professional accomplishments in the commercial construction industry, Ms. Alvarado is actively involved in supporting a number of charitable organizations, many of which are dedicated to the well-being and advancement of children and families. She is also dedicated to opening doors and increasing opportunities for women and people of all ethnic backgrounds to enter new careers. She is a passionate supporter of the work of Kempe and well deserving of this honor.

 

Congratulations to this year’s honorees – we thank you for your passion and dedication to Kempe’s mission to keep all children safe and healthy by supporting experts in the field, advocating for children and engaging with communities. And we look forward to celebrating you on March 15!

Register today for Imagine 2018 and help us celebrate these incredible individuals!