By Brad Constant
Picture this, a child is abducted while walking home. They are whisked away then loaded into a shipping container with other abducted children. That container takes them halfway around the world in terrible conditions to a foreign country where they are then sold on the blackmarket into the commercial sex or labor industries.
This is terrible to think about. It is frightening, dark imagery. But this is how modern culture views human trafficking. The movie Taken is a perfect example, as it depicts a daughter being abducted into a human trafficking scheme before, thankfully, being saved by her former-CIA agent father. But human trafficking is far more complex, and it is often very difficult to recognize.
Trafficking victims are often hidden in plain sight. There are rarely signs that can be seen and alert someone that a stranger is being trafficked. Many times the signs we believe as indicators of trafficking – someone looking disheveled, upset or scared – are not there. Trafficking also isn’t limited by race, gender or socioeconomic status when it comes to who could be a victim and who could be a perpetrator.
Traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to control their victims. All while exploiting legitimate systems when engaging in illegal activities. Banks are frequently used to store funds gained illegally while bus and train stations are primary places for recruitment with perpetrators preying on homeless youth seeking shelter. Truck stops and rest areas are often hotspots for sex trafficking, which hits closer to home here at Ross.
Many may be unaware, but Tri-Area Trucking School is a division of Ross. At Tri-Area Trucking we believe that professional drivers are at the frontlines in the battle against trafficking as the eyes and ears on domestic highways and local roads. This belief has led us to educate each student on human trafficking in the hopes that they can make a difference.
We partner with Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel industry to combat domestic trafficking, to educate our students. Each student is taught about the various trafficking red flags, what those flags may look like and how to report trafficking if they see it.
Furthermore, our students are taught how red flags are different depending on whether they are an over the road driver, a mover, a delivery driver or a bus driver. An over the road driver may notice a van or RV that seems out of place at a truck stop, while a mover may see evidence of domestic servitude.
Educating our students on the harsh realities of human trafficking makes an impact, but that impact is minor. There needs to be continuous efforts across all industries to advocate, educate and report human trafficking.
For more information about Truckers Against Trafficking, visit truckersagainstrafficking.org.
If you suspect you are seeing human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.
If you are witnessing a crime in progress, please call 911.