With so much talk about the hurt and pain in our world, it can be easy to get bogged down in the problems instead of continuing forward in our fight for justice. Every Friday in the month of December, I’ll be highlighting a company or organization that’s working hard to bring hope and freedom to countless people around the world. Some of them will be local and some global, but each organization is committed to the vision of seeing a world without slavery in our lifetime.
10-4 Rubber Duck. That’s an affirmative on your last transmission. While CB radio code can be fun (and confusing), the truckers that use it are the lifeblood of the transportation industry, and they are the eyes and ears of the nation’s highways. Truckers have the unique opportunity to make a difference and stop the chain of human trafficking, and Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is making sure that drivers are equipped to both spot the signs of human trafficking and to report it to authorities, thus helping to break the cycles of abuse.
When Kendis Paris, Kylla Lanier, and Lyn Leeburn founded Truckers Against Trafficking in 2007, they had one idea in mind: “What if truckers were educated and equipped to spot and report potential signs of human trafficking to the National Hotline?” So they created an organization with the mission to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and busing industries to combat human trafficking. They realized that people were being trafficked not only on streets and in private homes but also in legitimate business and that truckers have the valuable ability to spot possible victims at truck stops and motels along the road.
TAT has developed many resources and curriculums to help arm truck drivers with the information they need to be able to spot potential victims of trafficking and report it to local law enforcement. One of these programs is the Man to Man campaign. The goal of this campaign is to get a dialogue going among men about the immoral business of buying women and girls for commercial sex. Truckers Against Trafficking acknowledges that “Sex buying is an activity that few men engage in, but which has become known as “typical male behaviour.” This mythology disempowers men who have never bought sex, and never will–despite that these men are the majority. If men within this majority express their views on the immorality of sex-buying, they risk being perceived as an outlier.” However, TAT wants to put the power back in the hands of the nation’s most faithful transporters and enable them to speak up about this difficult topic, as well as create a space for them to share the reasons why they don’t purchase commercial sex. One driver, Gary Smith, who has been a driver for nine years said that he is a Trucker Against Trafficking, because nine years ago he had the opportunity to rescue a young girl but failed to act, and he says that now “I have to live with that.” Having the tools and training to know how to help people trapped in human trafficking ensures that men like Smith will never have to live with feelings of regret about not acting again and hopefully tremendously increases the number of young people who are freed from unjust situations.
Through the help of survivor leaders and certified trainers, Truckers Against Trafficking can reach professional drivers in every facet of driving including oil and gas, construction material transportation, busing, and food transportation. Along with certification courses that educate drivers on what to look for and what to do when they see human trafficking, there are also group initiatives that take place across the country. These initiatives include The Freedom Drivers Project (FDP) which is a mobile exhibit that educates members of the trucking industry, law enforcement and the general public about domestic sex trafficking and how the trucking industry is combating it. They also created the program Coalition Builds which brings law enforcement, the managers of truck stops, representatives of trucking companies and state trucking associations together to provide training with the purpose of decreasing trafficking and increasing anti-trafficking activity in local areas.
Truckers Against Trafficking partners with industry professionals at every stage of trucking. From the trucking schools and the carriers themselves to the truck stop industry and the state and national trucking associations, TAT can spread the word against human trafficking. Through their training, seminars, and educational resources, TAT has facilitated a significant increase in reports of possible trafficking to the national hotline, which has resulted in the recovery of countless victims and the arrest of many criminals.
Truckers Against Trafficking is committed to arming every trucker in the nation, and beyond, with the information and insight that they need to be able to make a difference in every truck stop and motel that they stay at, as well as on the roads they travel. Through their training, TAT is mobilizing more fighters in the battle against human trafficking and giving awareness to the people who haul our food and ship our goods.