January marks National Human Trafficking Awareness month.
As we reflect on goals for the year or renew commitments to existing resolutions, NATSO members are encouraged to keep in mind the critical role that they can play in helping to stop human trafficking along the nation’s Interstate Highways.
Although there is no official estimate for the total number of U.S. human trafficking victims, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of adults and minors are victims of human trafficking each year in the United States — many of whom could be moved from state to state along our national highway system.
As an industry that caters to millions of travelers every year, truckstops and travel plazas and their employees can help identify and stop human trafficking.
Whether your truckstop is just beginning to engage in the fight against human trafficking or whether you are renewing your commitment in this new year, here are 5 ways your truckstop or travel plaza can combat human trafficking in 2018.
Train your employees: Learn the indicators of human trafficking using the NATSO Foundation’s online course "The Role of Truckstops in Combating Human Trafficking" to ensure that you and your employees are prepared to recognize and respond to suspected incidents of human trafficking. The online learning module is free to anyone in the truckstop and travel plaza community and is available at https://www.natso.com/onlinelearning.
Post anti-human trafficking awareness materials in your location: Through its alliance with the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign, the NATSO Foundation provides the DHS Blue Campaign’s anti-human trafficking training and awareness materials – including posters, handouts and other materials — to the nation’s truckstops and travel plazas. These materials list one of two hotline numbers that people can call to report tips or seek help. Posters and other awareness materials can be downloaded here.
3) Be Well Informed
Participate in a regional coalition meeting with law enforcement and other business owners and operators: Regional coalition meetings hosted by Truckers Against Trafficking and co-sponsored by the NATSO Foundation provide an opportunity to educate members of the business community, transportation and law enforcement about human trafficking. They also serve as an open forum to discuss human trafficking trends in regional areas and to explore collective ways to combat this crime. All truckstops and travel plazas, regardless of NATSO membership, are invited to attend these private coalition meetings.
Meet with your local, state and federal representatives to let them know that you care about human trafficking. TravelCenters of America and NATSO in 2017 hosted Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) at TA’s Foristell, Mo., location as part of a congressional site visit designed to discuss issues of importance to the truckstop and travel plaza community. Rep. Wagner visited with TA employees and toured the facility to learn more about how the truckstop chain educates its employees to identify and report suspected incidents of human trafficking.
5) Share Information:
The NATSO Foundation works with myriad federal, state and other organizations to learn the most up-to-date information about human trafficking and share it with the truckstop and travel plaza community. Citing just one example, the NATSO Foundation works with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to increase the visibility of missing children, including those at high risk for sex trafficking. Through NCMEC’s High-Risk Child Poster Listserv, businesses uniquely positioned to help identify missing children considered to be at high risk can register to receive electronic posters containing their images and other vital information. Truckstop owners and operators can then share these posters with staff or hang them in a location visible to customers.
To learn more about how your organization can engage in the fight against human trafficking, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-739-8578.
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