Truckers are literally at the crossroads. They see and hear just about everything, including underage girls forced by a pimp to knock on doors. A nonprofit seeks to empower millions of truckers nationwide to fight sex trafficking on the front lines.
“They’re going to see things that most of the general public does not,” said Kendis Paris, the head of the group Truckers Against Trafficking.
Her organization trains members of the trucking community what to pay attention to, such as an SUV that drops off several young women or CB chatter about underage girls. Truckers are encouraged to call both law enforcement and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s anonymous tip line, run by the D.C.-based Polaris Project.
By calling the center, the information goes to an anti-trafficking deputy who can keep the investigation open, Paris said. The nonprofit also distributes wallet cards with questions to ask if they suspect something is wrong.
“We’ve had truckers tell us they’ve gotten into conversations where girls literally break down and start crying and say, ‘Help me,’ Paris said. “They point out the car on the lot and say, ‘I can’t get away.’”
The organization began after Paris read the book “Not for Sale” by David Batstone, about the global slave trade. Disturbed and inspired to act, she attended an event where the guest speaker discussed training gas station attendants at truck stops to report sex trafficking. Paris, who describes herself as a woman of faith, launched Truckers Against Trafficking with her sister and mother in 2009.
NEWS: Hell Helps Keep Society Safe While the impact is hard to measure, Paris said that last year Polaris reported about 200 calls from truckers, while this year they’re already up to 190. Among 30 caller types, truckers rank eighth in referencing potential human trafficking situations.
A number of large industry groups have started to partner with Truckers Against Trafficking. This month the national American Trucking Association announced a formal relationship with the organization to raise awareness.
The stakes remain high, though. Paris cites a Department of Justice estimate that between 100,000 and 300,000 children nationwide are at risk of being trafficked.
“These are America’s kids,” she said.
Credit: Truckers Against Trafficking