Truckers use position on America’s roadways to fight trafficking
Lyn Thompson is a co-founder of Truckers Against Trafficking. With more than 30 years as a public relations professional, she uses her speaking, writing and public relations skills to help TAT fulfill its mission and goals.
No one can fight child sex trafficking alone. Effective solutions require multiple efforts along multiple fronts to identify and recover victims and bring offenders to justice.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reports that one out of every seven endangered runaways in 2013 was a likely child sex trafficking victim. These child victims often end up travelling and being victimized along the highways of America.
This is why Truckers Against Trafficking, a nonprofit organization, is joining forces with NCMEC to get posters of missing children at high risk for sex trafficking to as many truckers and truck stop operators as possible.
TAT and NCMEC have created the new High-Risk Child Poster Initiative where truckers can sign up for an email Listerv where they will receive geolocated posters of missing children at high risk for child sex trafficking. As of now, this Listserv is only available to truckers and anti-trafficking organizations conducting street outreach and services for survivors of sex trafficking.
Empowering the witnesses
Since TAT began, calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center from truckers have increased from just three calls in 2008 to 787 calls between 2009 and 2013.
TAT started in 2009 to fight human trafficking and, in particular, child sex trafficking. The more than 9 million members of the trucking industry are the eyes and ears of America’s highways, and now tens of thousands of them are educated and equipped to spot and report human trafficking wherever and whenever they see it.
TAT provides education for members of the trucking industry through videos and equips truckers with wallet cards, brochures and other materials. Additionally, TAT works to empower and mobilize the trucking industry. They help build coalitions between members of state and local law enforcement and general managers of travel plazas and truck stops to help them work more effectively together to fight human trafficking.
TAT also works with law enforcement and state transportation agencies to provide TAT training and materials to law enforcement. These agencies interact with truckers at every possible trucking venue in a state, from weigh stations and rest areas to truck stops and CDL renewal locations.
"The TAT material is well done. It doesn’t take a lot of time to train staff, and the information is well put together,” said Chief David Lorenzen of the Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement at the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We fully embrace the efforts of TAT and will continue to work with them to get the information out to all professional drivers. Working together we can make a difference and curb this criminal activity."
TAT is proud to work with NCMEC to bring posters of these high risk children to the attention of truckers who travel the country and who may see these children and report a tip that could lead to their recovery.
If you are a member of the trucking or transportation industry or an organization that works with survivors of sex trafficking email Melissa Snow, NCMEC’s Child Sex Trafficking Program Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more information about High-Risk Child Poster Initiative.