Faith Community Nurse Geist Advocates for Victims of Sex Trafficking
Rebecca Geist, R.N., MSN, uses her nursing background to advocate for victims of sex trafficking throughout Lubbock.
Sex trafficking of young children has become widespread in recent years and educating
the public on how to protect the most vulnerable has been lacking until recently.
“I did not realize human sex trafficking is becoming more prevalent in Lubbock, Texas,” said Rebecca Geist, R.N., MSN, assistant professor and lead faculty for community and population health courses, TTUHSC School of Nursing Non-Traditional Programs.
A little over a year ago, Geist and a number of TTUHSC faculty members and students attended “Lubbock says NO to Sex Trafficking of Our Children: The Hidden Epidemic in Lubbock,” hosted by the Lubbock County Medical Society.
“We learned that in 2017, in Lubbock there were 70 victims of sex trafficking identified, with 16 of these being minors. The youngest victim was 8 years old,” Geist said. “Many of us were shocked at the statistics. These are children!”
A former school nurse, Geist decided to do something to help the victims and bring awareness of the problem to others who are around children.
Geist began her nursing career 33 years ago, including a span from 2005 to 2012 at Lubbock Independent School District, where she still is involved as chair of the LISD School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) Health Committee. She presented the information she learned at the conference and recommended they do something about it. The committee decided they could help educate the students, faculty and staff about sex trafficking by launching “Get Help- Get Out,” their project for the 2018-2019 school year.
"Get Help- Get Out" stickers have been posted in 2,257 restroom stalls throughout Lubbock.
L.I.S.D. approved the project which called for stickers to be placed in all of the
middle and high school restroom stalls along with the restrooms at Plains Capital
Park Lowery Field. Mandatory training also was approved for all Lubbock I.S.D. principals,
teachers, nurses, counselors and staff.
“We discussed the issues in Lubbock and the need to educate,” Geist said. “Education is key to make more people aware of this problem and help possible victims. I also think parents talking to their children is very important. The victims are groomed [by building an emotional connection to the predators] and do not realize what danger they are getting into.”
After finding out they had to cover 2,257 restroom stalls, she contacted District 17 of the Texas Nurse Association and the Texas Nursing Students Association and asked if they could help pay for the stickers. They agreed and made it part of their philanthropy endeavor for summer 2018.
“We completed the sticker campaign in two weeks!” Geist said. Today, the Lubbock I.S.D. school nurses are working with the custodians to replace the stickers as needed.”
She added that she’s visited several schools over the past academic year and that
people are taking the stickers, which are replaced by custodians.
One TTUHSC School of Nursing student told Geist about feeling hopeful as they attached the stickers because just one could save a life.
“I encourage my students to not forget about their community after they graduate. I tell my students at the end of each community and population health course, my hope is to make ambassadors of each of you as future nurses who want to continue to give back to your community. Please do not forget to get involved in YOUR community and volunteer,’’ she said.
Geist not only encourages her students to give back to their communities; she leads by example even though she works full time and is pursuing her Doctor of Nursing Practice at TTUHSC.
In March, the YWCA of Lubbock honored Geist as the YMCA Women of Excellence 2019 Award in Medicine for her accomplishments and contributions.
Geist holds National Board Certification as an advanced public health nurse and also a certificate as a faith community nurse. She earned her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Angelo State University and a Master of Science in Nursing from Lubbock Christian University. Before joining the faculty at TTUHSC, she was a hospital nurse and served in roles as charge nurse and nurse manager in specialty areas for over 19 years.
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