Three Stages of Prevention

Three Stages of PREVENTION in Human Trafficking

Researchers refer to three stages of prevention in addressing health threats such as human trafficking. These stages are defined by “interventions” meant to inhibit or reduce the effects of a given threat such as commercial sex or labor exploitation. Interventions are applied prior to or at various periods during exposure to the threat.


The Primary stage of prevention seeks to avert injury before it has occurred. Interventions that may prevent abuse or exploitation could include: classroom education for students, awareness campaigns, targeting parents and/or a general public awareness campaign.


The Secondary stage of prevention seeks to minimize the impact of injury that has already occurred and inhibit further injury. Interventions may include efforts to increase early identification of victims such as: billboard or PSA awareness campaigns, educator or other professional trainings and classroom education for students.


The Tertiary stage of prevention seeks long term solutions to help restore or comfort those that have been severely injured. This is a stage of last resort since the human and financial cost of mental and physical healthcare, at this point, can become burdensome and less effective.

While prevention is one of the main tenants of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the preponderance of anti-trafficking policy and funding is directed toward Tertiary prevention. This is a reactive approach. In order to begin reducing the numbers of new victims in human trafficking, we must adopt a more proactive approach to prevention by employing primary and secondary prevention strategies.