**Publsihed in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) volume 16.2. All rights reserved.**
Background: Women who are sex trafficked within the U.S. 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 (CBPR) 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.
Conclusion: This study showed that CBPR 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.