Truckers Against Trafficking: Who they are and what you can do.
Maybe you’ve seen the signs posted up on the bathroom walls of a rest area along an interstate or a quick PSA right before the video on your phone starts, they typically tell you the signs of human trafficking, what to look out for, and who to call. Due to the advancement of technology over the decades, people from all over have been able to put a spotlight on human trafficking and fight it through multiple mediums.
None of them has been more effective and, honestly, made more sense then getting those who are on the road, day and night, involved. Enter Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT), which began their initiative in 2009 after learning about trafficking in 2007. What originally was an idea to equip truckers and travel stops with the tools and knowledge to recognize trafficking has evolved into something much more vibrant and effective.
When you think of the open road, imagine just how many forms of travel are taking place from trucking, buses, vacationers, work trips, etc. Now imagine if most or all those individuals we taught awareness and training in how to recognize trafficking and help stop it in its tracks. That’s the impact TAT wishes to make across the country. One of the vital resources needed is law enforcement.
By utilizing “Coalition Builds” TAT networks law enforcement agencies and many government entities to work hand-in-hand with travel stop management and the trucking industry to increase the efficiency of stopping trafficking in real time. This practice is best explained through the following true story:
“On the morning of Jan. 6, 2015, Kimmel caught a glimpse of a distraught-looking young girl in the darkened window of an RV which had pulled into the New Kent, Virginia truck stop where Kimmel had stopped for some sleep.
Suddenly, her face was gone, almost as if it had been yanked away by someone.
Kimmel reported later to media that he “saw a guy come up and knock on the door, then go inside the truck stop, then quickly came back and knocked again, all of the sudden the thing was rocking and rolling.”
He decided things didn’t look right and called the police. When police responded, they found an Iowa couple in the RV, along with a 20-year-old malnourished and frightened young woman, who said the couple had kidnapped her two weeks earlier in Iowa, had physically and sexually abused her and then forced her into prostitution. The couple was arrested and charged with sex trafficking.
Kimmel, who has daughters and granddaughters, learned the gruesome details of the case through the news. “I’m just happy I helped her,” he said.”
Kimmel was awarded the 2015 Harriet Tubman Award presented by Kendis Paris, executive director of TAT and stated that due to the training from his company he was able to take action.
Today, the human trafficking industry has exploded in every major city and unfortunately, it is almost under its citizen’s noses. It is hard to believe that there is modern day slavery as most of us lives our lives far removed from those situations.
Another area of sex trafficking TAT is working to disrupt is the demand. They have created the “Man to Man” campaign that poses the question “Why don’t you purchase sex?” Sure, the answer is easy to come up with but saying it out loud and making it known of why it’s wrong is where the change for demand can take place. It’s naïve to think that there aren’t individuals out there that can pursue these acts, it’s abundantly clear since the demand has increased year over year. By diminishing the demand for it, there is a hope to put an end to sex trafficking.
We have gotten to know who and why TAT is, but what can little ol’ you do?
Glad you sort of asked!
The first thing you can do is recognize that there is a problem. It exists and you are likely closer to it than you realize.
Next is the be aware of red flags. Depending on your line of work there are many things that could give off the notion something is not right. We encourage you to visit this link and educate yourself (don’t worry it’s a quick read and could change someone’s life!). Below is a high-level list of things to look out for:
· Lots of traffic (different cars and typically men) coming in and out of one residence or business
· If you approach a residence or business, pay attention to what you’re hearing … is there any shouting taking place? Are threats being made? Do you hear anyone asking for help?
· Pay attention to any potential victims that may be visible. Do you see anyone who looks distressed or upset, crying or fearful?
· If a passenger vehicle pulls into the truck parking area of a rest area or truck stop and multiple people (usually females) get out of the vehicle and begin going from truck to truck.
· Someone that appears to have restricted or controlled communication or is unable to speak for her/himself.
Once you have read up on all the different kinds of red flags, what action should you take?
Depending on the situation, there are two things that you can do. If you believe you are witnessing an act in person, call 911 immediately and offer all the details you can on what is happening in order to get appropriate law enforcement to the location right away. Then you can call the Nation Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. If you are taking record of noticeable red flags and believe that something may be going on that doesn’t sit well but are not quite sure, you can call the hotline first and let them know of the situation and they will guide you from there.
Be sure to not approach a potential trafficker on your own, you can be a hero just by making a few phone calls.
Most the time if you are traveling and are at a truck stop or rest stop, alert a manager or security patrol on duty of what you think may be going on and they will help assess the situation.
To learn more about TAT, visit their website here.
When you join Meadow Lark, you join the fight
All employees of Meadow Lark undergo TAT training and are taught the signs of trafficking and what to do. We proudly support TAT as Gold Level sponsors and are proud to do our part for this cause.
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