It is no secret that human trafficking exists throughout the United States and the world. Approximately 21 million people are trafficked around the globe, and the number of children that are trafficked in the United States is 26 times the amount of players in the NFL, NBA and MLB combined. It is estimated that the profits generated by human trafficking globally are $32 Billion.
The trucking industry experiences trafficking at truck stops and parking lots frequently. In fact, there are even stickers sold to truckers that are labeled “No Lot Lizards” indicating that they do not care to partake in those activities. But, now truckers are stepping up and putting a stop to this horrible industry. Truckers have been called “knights of the road” for years, but that name can mean even more with your help today.
“The trucking industry is seven million strong, and our goal is to have everyone in our industry trained on how to recognize human trafficking and how to take action to rescue victims and save lives by making the call and reporting the crime,” said ATA Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Elisabeth Barna a tthe House Homeland Security Committee during a roundtable on the issue. “Our industry has made nearly 2,000 calls to the national human trafficking hotline, resulting in more than 600 likely human trafficking cases identified involving more than 1,300 trafficking victims. More than 375 of those rescued victims were minors.”
Barna has been a major leader in this fight, and you can watch her here on the DHS Blue Campaign Facebook live video talk through human trafficking with representatives from Delta Airlines, Amtrak and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers. Barna was also quoted stating:
“Truck drivers are family men and women and a lot of them have kids who could be targeted for trafficking, so they’re able to talk to their peers and ask them to continue spreading the message about human trafficking awareness. We are starting to be able to get more signs and videos about trafficking into the driver lounge areas or at diesel fuel stations. Our member companies are getting more engaged every day, and many of the larger trucking companies are training their entire workforces on human trafficking awareness.”
Organizations like the American Trucking Association, America’s Road Team and Truckers Against Trafficking are all joining together to help spread awareness to truckers, as well as educate them on how to detect trafficking and what to do to help. Individual truckers like John McKown are stepping out and spreading awareness as well. McKown, a Truckers Against Trafficking-trained truck driver, told his story during a TED Talk about what he’s doing to put a stop to human trafficking. He encourages other truckers to do the same, and you can see his talk here.
What you can do
Although the task is large, every trucker can do something small to help. In the below graphic, Truckers Against Trafficking highlighted some of the warning signs to detect human trafficking. Here are some of the warning signs:
- Lack of knowledge of the individuals community or whereabouts
- Restricted or controlled communication
- Radio chatter or flashing lights signaling location
- Not in control of their own ID
- Acknowledgement of pimp or making a quota
- Branding of trafficker’s name
The first step to making a difference is educating yourself on the topic and understanding what you should be looking for. The signs above are a great way to start educating yourself, but doing even more research here or here would be wise. The next necessary step is taking action. The best way for truckers to do this is by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 whenever you encounter behavior that is not normal or witness some of the warning signs listed above.
Every 2 seconds a child is being prepared for sexual exploitation. What you do now can help change someone’s life forever. With the right knowledge and a community of truckers doing the right thing, human trafficking will be one step closer to being erased.
Thank you to Truckers Against Trafficking for all the great material and pictures provided.