Background: Women who are sex trafficked within the United States are often forced to get tattoos such as bar codes, dollar signs, or the name of the trafficker—the person who is selling them for sex. Tattoo artists may routinely encounter a sex trafficking survivor while she is being trafficked. As frontline professionals, they are in a unique position to assist in the secondary prevention of sex trafficking.

Objectives: The main objective of this community-based participatory research project was to hold a tattoo-summit to: a) disseminate information on sex trafficking and the tattoo industry, b) assess the feasibility of training/education of tattoo artists on sex trafficking, c) determine areas of foci and best method(s) for a training/educational intervention, and d) recruit volunteers for a community advisory board to assist in the training/education of tattoo artists on the secondary prevention of sex trafficking.

Methods: The tattoo-summit included a presentation by a nationally known tattoo artist, a free educational luncheon-presentation on sex trafficking by a public health researcher and a law-enforcement sex trafficking expert, and a mediated discussion. Post-summit evaluation data included improvement in knowledge of sex trafficking and ability to respond to trafficking in their work, and participants’ perspectives on future training approaches.

Conclusions: This study showed that community-based participatory research is an effective way to partner with tattoo artists in raising awareness of sex trafficking. Hence, it is important that we reach out to non-traditional frontline partners such as tattoo artists to improve the health of all people.


Additional Information

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pp. 271-276
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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