The reality is that individuals who are at risk of trafficking or who have experienced trafficking are not being recognized. This is often due to various barriers that hinder identification. These barriers fall into two categories, individual-related and provider-related barriers.
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One provider-related barrier to responding to trafficking is implicit bias. Providers have an ethical obligation to be aware of and reduce the effects of implicit bias on providing the individual with high-quality care.
Implicit bias refers to the “attitudes (positive and/or negative) or stereotypes toward a person, thing, or group that affects our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.”
Throughout our lifetime, a complicated network of experiences shape our values and beliefs. Factors such as family of origin, education, occupation, socioeconomic status, culture, and gender are some examples of ways implicit bias is cultivated over our lifetime through both direct experiences and indirect messages. We form judgments about individuals, situations, and circumstances based on stereotypes, professions, and culture.
Whether conscious or unconscious, we form judgements about individuals and circumstances that can interfere with our ability to effectively and ethically serve individuals who have experienced trafficking. However, we can work to counter implicit bias if first we become aware of it, then take actions to redirect our responses. Click on the link to read about practical tips for combatting implicit bias in your workplace.