Over-the-road truckers get to see many beautiful, awe-inspiring and even strange- maybe horrifying – sights while driving. Human trafficking is one of the horrifying things. But most often one does not realize when it is occurring- it may just be thought of as one of the many weird things that happen when driving.
Human trafficking is one of the most lucrative illegal trades in the world, making a total of $32 billion a year. This largely unknown crime is frighteningly widespread. Even in the United States, vulnerable minors and young adults are frequently targeted for kidnapping, misled by offers such as potential modeling opportunities.
There are no statewide or national tracking programs to help locate these victims, so the crime is usually discovered when victims find a way to report the case or because witnesses notice the signs and make a report to authorities. These witnesses are generally people around popular trafficking sites. Truckers are becoming a larger part of this group every day.
The non-profit organization, Truckers Against Trafficking, arms truckers with the information they need to recognize and report signs of human trafficking because they know the trucker lifestyle offers high visibility into this world. As a trucker, you travel the country, visiting truck stops and staying in hotels and motels that are frequently used for this purpose. Truckers may also be approached and advertised to, creating yet another special opportunity for truckers to witness suspicious activity.
According to their website, Truckers Against Trafficking has been training truckers to recognize the signs of human trafficking since 2009. During this time, they have trained 214,000 people and partnered with many law enforcement agencies, nonprofits, and hundreds of trucking-related companies such as Walmart Transportation and UPS. Truckers have made more than 1,400 calls to the NHTRC (National Human Trafficking Resource Center) hotline and alerted authorities to 452 likely trafficking cases involving 992 victims, 270 of which were minors.
The Truckers Against Trafficking training is free. You’ll receive information on what to look for and how to properly respond to seeing suspected human traffickers. You’re also encouraged to display posters notifying victims of their options to receive to help.
You may also be interested in organizations like The Covering House, which gives aid to trafficking victims after a rescue. After witnessing potential or obvious human trafficking activity, you may want to give additional aid by supporting organizations that help victims with the long term trial of rebuilding their lives.
Also, once you learn the signs of human trafficking, you may realize you have seen suspicious activity and didn’t know to or didn’t know how to act on it. This is understandably a very painful realization, but you can help victims you see in the future by getting training from Truckers Against Trafficking, spreading the word about human trafficking and helping organizations like The Covering House.
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