Monday, July 16, 2012

Truckers Against Trafficking: Take a Stand


Each year there are over 17,500 people trafficked into the United States. They are transported by boat, plane, train, bus and truck. This is a staggering number, and the information only gets worse. Human trafficking is a billion dollar industry, second only to drug trafficking. It is prevalent in all areas of the world, including the United States.

Currently, there are more than 300,000 American children in the human trafficking industry. These children are forced into a lifestyle they have no control over and literally become slaves. These children are taken from their homes at a young age and sold repeatedly for many purposes including manual labor and prostitution. The average age for children in the trafficking world is thirteen to fifteen years old, with a life expectancy of seven to nine years beyond that.

Human trafficking is a real and ever-present danger and it has to stop. Now, you may be reading this thinking what can I do? The truth is, you can do a lot. You don’t even have to put yourself out there, you don’t have to do a single thing except make a phone call. When you are at a truck stop or anywhere else and you notice something strange, call it in.

There is an organization called Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) that specializes in providing help to those children who find themselves caught in the world of human trafficking. TAT was founded because the trucking industry has been targeted by traffickers as a premium industry for their business. The constant movement of truck drivers provides traffickers with the ultimate climate to sell and transport their “cargo”, which in this case is young boys and girls.

Realizing this, TAT has implemented a program to educate truck drivers across the nation that this problem is there and that they can do something about it, all you need is a phone. There is a hotline (1-888-373-7888) implemented by TAT for drivers to call when they see suspicious activity. When calling this hotline you do not need to give any personal information, just tell them what you see.

If you see young women walking around the truck stop, don’t just roll your eyes at the “lot lizards” and go to sleep. Pick up your phone and call the police or the Truckers Against Trafficking hotline. You may think that you can’t make a difference, but you can. Mark, a truck driver for more than 30 years, remembers a time when he had the chance to make a call:

“I’ve been in the transportation industry since 1971 and I remember one time about 31 years ago I pulled into a truck stop, it was night and I was doing some paperwork. I noticed some girls going from truck to truck. Then a little bit later, I heard a knock on my door. I looked out the window and saw a girl standing there, so I got out and she asked me if I wanted a date. She was probably about thirteen or fourteen, really young. I said no, but let me ask you, why are you doing this? and she said, “See that Cadillac down there? That’s why.” I knew what she meant. I got back in my truck and I thought, why don’t I just walk across the parking lot and call the police? It would be easy, just walk across and call. Well… I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it and it’s been bothering me for 31 years. I feel that if people were aware, if they would just get involved… it’s just a simple phone call. Don’t let it bother you the rest of your life. It’s just a phone call, but it can make a big difference.”

Mark’s story is one where there was not a call made. However, there is also a story where the call was made and it made all the difference in the world. Shari was fifteen when she and her cousin, age 14, were kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Every day was full of abuse and fear with no hope of escape. Then, one day Shari was rescued. She was back at home and her life was given back to her. The reason she was freed is because a truck driver made a call.

“I have a life now.” Shari said.  “I’m married to a great guy and have a daughter with a son on the way. I’m sitting here next to my mom and all this could have been taken away if it weren’t for a trucker who made the call.”

You may think that you alone could never make a difference, but that is not true. From this one call from one truck driver, seven other children were rescued, 31 offenders were convicted and a 13-state prostitution ring was shut down. You can make a big difference.

To learn more about how you can be an everyday hero, visit As a truck driver, you are the eyes and ears of this nation’s highways, you can see things on one else can. This also means you can help in a way that no one else can.