August 12, 2023What Truckers Should Know About Human Trafficking
Human Trafficking occurs daily and globally, with an estimated 25 million victims falling prey to traffickers. There are different types of human trafficking; some cases may be more difficult to spot than others. Truckers can be the first line of defense in the fight to combat human trafficking, and knowing how to identify potential cases, what to do if you see one, and why all this is so important is a step towards battling these crimes.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar global operation focused on stealing the freedoms of human beings and forcing them into unwilful labor, sex, and other situations for profit. Some refer to human trafficking as modern slavery, a tragedy whose origins date back to the 16th century. The most common tactics traffickers use to coerce victims are:
- Physical or emotional abuse.
- Taking advantage of financial hardships.
- Making false promises.
- Any other threats to trick or threaten the victim and instill fear.
Unfortunately, many human trafficking victims are children, so knowing how to spot potential warning signals becomes more critical than ever.
The Sound of Freedom, released July 4th, 2023, starring Jim Caviezel, is a movie about human trafficking that has touched viewers nationwide. The film tells the story of a former U.S. government agent’s journey to rescue children from a global sex trafficking operation. Based on a true story, The Sound of Freedom shows sides of child trafficking that we wouldn’t usually consider and tugs at the heartstrings of anyone watching, especially those with children of their own.
What Role Do Truckers Play in Human Trafficking?
Many locations that truckers frequent can have human trafficking crimes taking place. Be aware when traveling through truck stops, rest stops, or travel centers, and look for signs of possible crimes. Border towns can be incredibly suspicious, and being alert in these areas can help identify potential victims. Be aware of personal safety in these areas and avoid raising unnecessary suspicion while investigating a possible case. You don’t want to risk the perpetrator catching onto your plan and fleeing with the victim before you can report it.
The National Human Trafficking Hotline is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to report a tip. Whether you hear, see, or sense something, it can help save a life. Since its start in 2007, the hotline has identified over 82,000 human trafficking cases. You can call, text, or chat online to report any signs of trafficking. The hotline website also has information about how to recognize potential trafficking.
Across the nation, the trucking industry is also making strides toward raising awareness and contributing to the fight against human trafficking. Truckers Against Trafficking is a non-profit organization helping educate and train truckers and others on how to recognize red flags when it comes to human trafficking and ways they can help identify and save potential victims. Last month they hosted a Coalition Build event in Tennessee, partnering with Bridgestone, Pilot Company, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to raise awareness for the fight against human trafficking. The National Human Trafficking Hotline and Truckers Against Trafficking websites have essential information about recognizing signs and what to do if you witness something. These strategies will prepare you to save someone the next time you’re at a truck stop or rest area.
A universal distress signal to look for is someone attempting to display their thumb enclosed in their palm. Seeing this signal should raise an alert about potential danger involving that person. Children are also being taught this signal for help, which is becoming a great asset in helping save minors from being trafficked.
Some cases may not be as apparent as others, especially regarding a child, because they may not always know or understand that they are being trafficked. Human trafficking crimes can be committed by someone the victim knows and has taken advantage of that fact to trick them into trusting them. Minors can sometimes be more trusting of women; therefore, female truck drivers can play a massive role in identifying victims trafficked by women. They can also make the child feel more comfortable if they find a chance to ask some questions to find out if they are potentially being trafficked.
How is Human Trafficking Already Being Combatted?
The fight against human trafficking is an ongoing battle, gaining traction as more and more organizations and officials get on board. In December 2021, the Biden Administration released the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. Investing resources into anti-trafficking policies and programs and ending forced labor in global supply chains are some of the main focuses of the plan.
Recently the FMCSA launched its “Your Roads. Their Freedom” campaign to encourage commercial vehicle drivers to pay attention to signs of human trafficking and report anything they see or hear. Posters promoting the campaign are going to rest areas, travel centers, and anywhere else where human trafficking can occur.
The FBI led a nationwide “Operation Cross Country” enforcement campaign, locating 200 victims of sex trafficking. The two-week-long operations held in July also led to the arrest of over 100 suspects involved in human trafficking and child sexual exploitation.
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