The efforts of the trucking industry to fight human trafficking by becoming Truckers Against Trafficking have been recognized by the U.S. State Department’s inclusion of the TAT Everyday Heroes poster in the 2012 Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.
This report is “the U.S. Government’s principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking. It is also the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts and reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it. The U.S. Government uses the TIP Report to engage foreign governments in dialogues to advance anti-trafficking reforms and to combat trafficking and to target resources on prevention, protection and prosecution programs. Worldwide, the report is used by international organizations, foreign governments, and nongovernmental organizations alike as a tool to examine where resources are most needed. Freeing victims, preventing trafficking, and bringing traffickers to justice are the ultimate goals of the report and of the U.S Government’s anti-human trafficking policy.”
The poster can be seen by scrolling down to page 391 at this link: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/192599.pdf
Well done, Trucking Industry!!!!
Englewood, CO –Iowa 80 Truckstop, the World’s Largest Truckstop, has joined forces with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to raise awareness about human trafficking among professional drivers and expand its employee training program with regard to this issue.
“The management of Iowa 80 Truckstop has taken a very studied approach to human trafficking and has concluded Iowa 80, as a prominent organization in the trucking industry, can play a pivotal role in the fight against this crime,” commented Kendis Paris, TAT national director. “We are thrilled to have them on board with TAT.”
Professional drivers are encouraged to pick up a TAT wallet card at Iowa 80 Truckstop, which provides red flags to look for if trafficking is suspected, specific information to note for law enforcement and the national hotline number to call with the tip.
Iowa 80 Truckstop also now includes general training about human trafficking and TAT resource materials to all company employees.
“We have always trained our employees to be aware of people in our facility who may need assistance,” said Delia Moon Meier, Iowa 80 Truckstop senior vice president. “Our employees, customers and business partners can all play a role in helping those who need it and save lives.”
She continued, “We’re proud to support TAT’s work and do our part to end human trafficking. The trucking industry is full of caring people who we believe can make a real difference.”
TAT is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to educating, equipping, empowering and mobilizing the trucking industry to fight human trafficking. Its resources include a website, a trucking-industry-specific training DVD, webinars, posters, speakers/trainers and more. More information is available at www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com.
Brenny Transportation in Minnesota will be fundraising for TAT for the whole month of May! They report that May’s fundraiser committee is the biggest committee they’ve had for any fundraising they’ve ever done! The message is strong here! For their fundraiser, they will not only be raising money, but they’ll be going to truck stops in the central Minnesota area and spreading the word to drivers; advertising TAT’s cause to all carriers and brokers they work with; and helping the Minnesota Trucking Association kick off their efforts for TAT.
Reprinted from ORU News
Human trafficking is a booming business, second only to drug trafficking. While someone can sell a drug only once, a pimp can sell a child for a sex act over and over. There is an estimated 27 million sex slaves today worldwide, more than at any other time in history. The average age for a victim of sex trafficking is age 12 years, and they live an average of seven years after entering the industry. These children are being prostituted on the street, at truck stops and in motels and need to be rescued.
Oral Roberts University’s Branding and Promotions classes are getting real-world experience and at the same time changing lives through a classroom assignment. The students have adopted a client with whom they may practice their newly-acquired skills. That client is Truckers Against Trafficking.
The goal of Truckers Against Trafficking is to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking in a threefold way. First, they work to place in the hands of every trucker in America a wallet card listing indicators of trafficking victims and a rescue telephone number; secondly, have the trucking-industry-specific training DVD made part of orientation for all truck stop and travel plaza employees, all students of private and public truck-driving schools and all truck drivers employed via major carriers or owner/operators; and thirdly, partner with law enforcement to facilitate the investigation of human trafficking.
To help support this worthy organization, students, under the direction of ORU Assistant Professor Chris Putman, are building a promotional package to raise awareness for TAT. Students with clipboards and surveys in hand will conduct research to gather insight on public awareness and opinion, write press releases to gain exposure, design ads and posters, plan guerrilla marketing, create an awareness night presentation and then compile their promotional recommendations into a plans book for the organization to utilize.
Because online presence is key nowadays, the students are posting message updates, pictures and videos of their activities on the TAT Facebook site. Another tactic the class is using to get the word out is to dramatically drive up the organization’s Facebook fans.
“Growing up my parents owned a small motel in El Paso, Texas, where truckers composed a large percentage of our business,” Truckers Against Trafficking Co-founder and National Coordinator Lyn Thompson said. “They were, by and large, good guys. As I reviewed how prevalent human trafficking is along our nation’s highways and how members of the trucking industry are literally everywhere, it made sense to me that they could play a critical role in the fight against human trafficking. With a little help, they could be the abolitionist heroes of the 21st century. In 2009, as members of Chapter 61 Ministries, we started the Truckers Against Trafficking initiative to educate, equip, empower and mobilize the trucking industry in this fight. TAT has grown so fast and received such support that, in 2011, it became its own 501c3 ministry.”
Thompson and two of her daughters, TAT National Director Kendis Paris and TAT Social Media Coordinator Kylla Leeburg, are making a difference. They recently have received permission to place trafficking materials in the 800 TA/Petro and Pilot/Flying J truck stops nationwide.
“What we are asking the trucking industry to do is to become aware of this issue and then act upon it,” Paris said. “These girls need an everyday hero. They [truckers] need to pick up that phone, and make a call that hopefully leads to their rescue.”
Through this outreach, this mother-and-daughter team has aired the story of the kidnap and rescue of two Ohio teens walking to Wendy’s for a snack. The two Toledo minors were kidnapped by a prostitution ring and began servicing men in truck stops right away.
“Here we are, I’m 15 years old and my cousin is 14, at a truck stop working, and we’re forced to go from truck to truck asking the guy if they’d like to have sex with us, and we’re young girls terrified out of our minds,” rescued sex slave Shari said. “It’s awful to think that these truckers are okay with it, thinking this is someone’s daughter.”
But it was a trucker with his eyes and ears open that spotted the underage girls working a truck stop. They are grateful he didn’t brush it off. He made that call.
“Thank God…because this trucker made a call I have an opportunity to have life,” Shari said. “I can actually come back from this.”
So how did the Oral Roberts University Branding & Promotions class become involved with such an unlikely organization? Word of TAT fell on the ears of a university professor who is always on the lookout for a good cause.
“Each year I seek out a nonprofit organization my students can adopt as their client for the semester,” Putman said. “I noticed that many ORU students were incredibly passionate about the human trafficking problem. When I secured Truckers Against Trafficking as this year’s class client, I knew I found an organization my students could believe in and work for with conviction. I enjoy having a real-world organization on which my students can practice their skills, help a credible organization and touch lives all while earning college credit.”
To gain more information on or make a contribution to TAT, log on to http://truckersagainsttrafficking.com/
The complete statistics from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) are out for 2011 with a breakdown of data from truck stops. Some of the highlights include:
- The NHTRC received 185 calls from callers who self-identified as truckers. Over 50 percent of these calls referenced human trafficking tips or crisis cases.
- The most common way calls learned of the NHTRC was via TAT.
- The NHTRC received reports about 79 unique cases of potential human trafficking at truck stops in 2011 — 35 of those contained a high level of critical information and demonstrated key indicators relevant to identifying a human trafficking situation.
- Demographic data of potential victims breaks down as 1 male, 33 females, 7 were adults, 30 were minors, and 17 were US citizens.
- The top five states, in descending order, for location of potential trafficking were Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio.
Two example vignettes include:
While driving through Flagstaff, AZ late at night, a trucker pulled over at a truck stop near the highway. The driver observed a man who appeared to be in his late 30s with a young girl who appeared to be around 13 years old. At first the driver didn’t think anything was wrong, but after observing the man and the young girl approach several other truckers, the driver became increasingly suspicious. The driver spoke with one of the other truckers, who told him the man with the young girl was offering to sell her for commercial sex to the various truckers they’d approached. The driver hadn’t been to this particular truck stop in the past, and he asked the other trucker if he’d seen the man and the girl before. After indicating that the situation wasn’t new, the other trucker explained that, while he was disturbed by what was occurring, he didn’t know what to do with the information. The driver decided to contact the NHTRC, since he’d heard about the human trafficking hotline on a radio spot by TAT. After receiving the driver’s report, the NHTRC reported the information to a federal law enforcement taskforce that works specifically on cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Early one morning, a truck driver contacted the NHTRC to report a situation involving several young girls. A few days previously, the truck driver had been at a truck stop in Arkansas and had observed three teenage girls offering commercial sex. The trucker wasn’t sure of their exact ages, but thought they looked very young. In the past, the trucker had observed women at this particular truck stop offering commercial sex, but this was the first time she’d seen anyone this young. At first, she was hesitant to report the sitaution, but she’d noticed that all of the young girls were picked up by the same van each morning, which she found suspicious. After seeing a newspaper story about human trafficking and hearing a radio commcercial by TAT that featured the hotline number and discussed the issue, she decided to call and report what she’d seen. The NHTRC contacted a federal law enforcement taskforce that works specifically on cases of commercial sexual exploitation of children and provided them with information about the truck stop.
PILOT FLYING J SUPPORTS TRUCKERS AGAINST TRAFFICKING
In an effort to help raise awareness about human trafficking along America’s roadways, Pilot Flying J has partnered with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) to expand education for employees and outreach to customers.
“The Pilot Flying J family, made up of our employees, our customers, our vendors and other business partners, has the opportunity to help shut down human trafficking along our nation’s highways,” said Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam. “Our associates, professional drivers and the motoring public can take a stand by keeping our eyes and ears open for trafficking red flags. And, with one simple phone call, we can help keep our roadways safe and free of crime and, most importantly, save lives.”
Pilot Flying J posted information from TAT in its more than 550 travel centers and travel plazas across the U.S. These posters provide the National Hotline number that individuals should call to provide an anonymous tip if they witness or suspect human trafficking. The number is 1-888-373-7888.
Professional drivers are encouraged to pick up a TAT wallet card at Pilot Flying J locations, which along with the National Hotline number, provides an email contact, tips on trafficking red flags and specific information to provide to law enforcement with each tip.
Pilot Flying J also now includes general training about human trafficking and TAT resources to all company employees.
Some of the human trafficking red flags that Truckers Against Trafficking recommends to look for include people exhibiting:
- Lack of knowledge of their community or whereabouts
- Lack of control of own identification documents (ID/passport)
- Restricted or controlled communication – not allowed to speak for self
- Demeanor: fear, anxiety, depression, submissive, tense, nervous
The timing of Pilot Flying J’s plans to utilize TAT training materials coincides with recent legislation in Tennessee aimed at stopping human trafficking in the company’s home state. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., Pilot Flying J supports the state law ratified in June that requires certain businesses, including travel centers and travel plazas, to post a sign with information regarding the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.
“We’re very proud to support the work of Truckers Against Trafficking and do our part to help,” Jimmy Haslam said. “The trucking industry is a family of caring individuals, and together we’re millions of people who can be part of the solution to a devastating problem.”
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) has received more than 125 calls from professional drivers, and of these, more than 60% resulted from awareness and outreach efforts conducted by TAT. Of the cases reported by truckers referencing trafficking, approximately 62% involved potential minors in human trafficking situations.
The TAT initiative has a four-fold purpose: to educate members of the trucking/travel plaza industry about human trafficking and the role they can play in fighting it; equip them with tools; empower them with steps to take; and mobilize them to take a stand against one of the world’s most lucrative and destructive crimes. The initiative includes a website, www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com, with resources such as videos, webinars, Human Trafficking 101 classes and more.
Human trafficking, a term for modern-day slavery, is a $32-billion worldwide industry with more than 27 million people enslaved in the world today. In the United States, it has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands.
For more information about Pilot Flying J, visit www.pilotflyingj.com.
About Pilot Flying J
Pilot Flying J is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, and has more than 550 retail locations across North America. Pilot Flying J is also one of the nation’s largest wholesale fuel providers, delivering over 500 million gallons of fuel to thousands of customers in 47 states and eight Canadian provinces. The company employs approximately 18,000 people and is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America.
# # #
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed a proclomation declaring the week of November 6-12, 2011 as Human Trafficking Awareness Week in Tennessee. This is just the kind of thing that raises the awareness of people all over our country about the seriousness and relevance of human trafficking in our nation and our world. To read more about the pronouncement, follow this link: http://www.noomizo.com/index.php/tn-governor-proclaims-human-trafficking-awareness-week/
We recently received an email from the director of a safe home for survivors of human trafficking thanking TAT for its great work and wanted to share why. Not long ago a young girl was directed to their home through the national hotline. When asked how she knew to contact the hotline she began to tell her story. Apparently she had managed to escape from her captors and began to hitch hike when a truck driver offered her a ride. As they began to speak this driver asked her a series of questions which helped him identify her as a human trafficking victim. As a result he gave her the hotline information and because of that she is in a safe home today.
Truck drivers truly are everyday heroes!
Bradley Myles, executive director of the Polaris Project, the organization who runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, reported yesterday (10-11-11) that the hotline has received 230 calls from truckers to date, many of them reporting tips on human trafficking situations they see at truck stops. This is fantastic news! Truckers truly are the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways and are making a difference in this fight! Keep those calls coming!
Truckers Against Trafficking is ready to set sail!
TAT organization is partnering with Carols Travel Time to offer a cruise designed for truckers with a heart. The cruise is sailing from Tampa, Florida to the Western Caribbean on May 6, 2012 for seven fun-filled days of blue waters and great ports of call, such as Belize, Grand Cayman and Mahogany Bay. Guest host for the cruise is the nationally acclamied performing artist, Joey Holiday. As Carol Cipriano says, “Let someone else take the wheel.”
Besides having a great time with a great guest host, truckers will be donating money to a great cause – Truckers Against Trafficking. Part of the price of the cruise goes to the organization to educate and help save victims from human trafficking. Info at www.truckersagainsttrafficking.com.
The blog radio show On the Grid will be discussing the issue of human trafficking on its shows Oct. 1-8, 2011. Please make time to listen. Here’s a short video promoting the shows: http://youtu.be/y80_eEUMXnO.
Target Media Partners has developed a great way to support Truckers Against Trafficking while at the same time creating space to market your own company. When you get a chance take a look at this calendar and please consider joining Celadon and Quality Carriers by signing up for a month and becoming a part of it.TAT Calendar Promo Sheet
Kendis Paris, TAT national director, will be interviewed on blog talk radio’s, On The Grid, Oct. 1 at 10 a.m. EST in the first part of their “Eyes Wide Shut” series about human trafficking. Visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/onthegrid for more details.
Our last blog post was to tell you about Eric Bell, who was wanted by the FBI for his role in human trafficking. He was caught and arrested on Wednesday by members of the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation. For more on the story, please follow the link: http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index.ssf/2011/09/authorities_fugitive_wanted_on.html
In the August/September 2011 issue of Landline Magazine, an article entitled Voice for the Lost was published about Truckers Against Trafficking. An erroneous statistic was used. Here is the quote, “Since TAT was formed in 2009, more than 125 truck drivers in 30 states have called the national hotline number, resulting in the rescue of more than 100 human trafficking victims, including many underage teens.” We would like to state for the record that this is untrue. 125 truckers from over 30 states have called in tips to the national hotline about potential human trafficking, which is wonderful. We just want to be clear, that 100 victims have not been rescued as a result of those particular calls.