Many people think that human trafficking only happens in movies, or in small, impoverished countries. The truth is, it’s a real, modern-day version of slavery, exploiting an estimated 40 million victims worldwide, and occurring in all 50 states across America, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. Truckers Against Trafficking is one group raising awareness to help reduce those numbers.
Trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to control victims for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or labor services against his or her will. Trafficking affects people around the world and doesn’t discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background.
Human trafficking is commonly seen in areas within the sex industry, such as brothels, escort services, illicit massage businesses, strip clubs, and street prostitution. There are now many different communities recognizing that they can help reduce sex trafficking by working alongside service providers, criminal prosecutors, and law enforcement.
We’re proud to have partnered with the efforts of Truckers Against Trafficking, to ensure that the more than 70,000 carriers Trinity Logistics works with are trained on how to spot trafficking and how to report it.
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is an organization dedicated to educating, equipping, empowering, and mobilizing members of the trucking, bus, and energy industries to recognize potential trafficking situations and report them to the authorities. TAT’s tagline is “make the call, save lives.” TAT is working to raise up a mobile army of transportation professionals – the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways – to be a critical resource for law enforcement in fighting this crime, as they are invaluable when it comes to recognizing traffickers who are exploiting the transportation system for their personal gain.
Truckers Against Trafficking’s co-founder, Lyn Leeburg, developed the idea for TAT by accessing memories of her childhood. Her parents owned a motel in El Paso, Texas, where good-natured and hard-working truckers were frequent customers. Once Leeburg realized that the FBI were finding women and children forced into prostitution at places truckers frequent, like motels and truck stops, she realized that it would be important to work with the trucking industry to raise up a transient army, capable of recognizing and reporting human trafficking across the nation.
In March 2009, Leeburg, her four daughters, and one other woman started Truckers Against Trafficking as an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries, an earlier organization they had founded. Two years later, Leeburg’s daughter, Kendis Paris, took over the leadership of TAT and turned it into a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. From there, Paris built out TAT’s programs, expanded its vision and strategy and developed it into the award-winning organization it is today.
As a third-party logistics (3PL) company, Trinity Logistics does not directly employ drivers, but we do work with a network of more than 70,000 freight carriers. According to TAT, this partnership could be a game-changer.
Kendis Paris, TAT’s Executive Director, believes our partnership with TAT could have an “exponential effect” on the awareness of human trafficking and the reporting of potential cases.
Trinity plans to encourage all of our carrier base to view the TAT training video and to distribute the TAT materials through our website, email campaigns, and through conversations with our Carrier Relations and Carrier Development departments.
TAT has made its training easily accessible. Carriers can obtain the training video and free supplemental materials directly from TAT for inclusion in new driver orientation and/or regular safety meetings. The TAT training course is also available on several major Learning Management System providers that serve the transportation industry, as well as being publicly available directly through TAT’s learning portal, which is a great option for independent owner-operators.
Becoming TAT trained is as simple as watching a training video that equips drivers with the knowledge to recognize and respond to potential trafficking situations. Once trained, drivers will receive a window decal and a wallet card with the National Trafficking Hotline Number and questions to ask if they feel someone may be a victim of human trafficking.
Companies can train their drivers and employees with TAT materials, adopt the internal reporting system so that TAT can identify and honor the Truckers Against Trafficking that drive for a company, partner with TAT to assist law enforcement, share TAT’s newsletter, use influence in the trucking industry to tell others about TAT, become a corporate sponsor, and consider donating a haul of the Freedom Drivers Project to one of TAT’s many events around the country.
Companies can join TAT in the fight against human trafficking – and meet their sustainability goals at the same time – through a variety of ways: train their drivers/employees with TAT materials and then register the number of company employees trained via their TAT-Trained website page; create a company culture that identifies and honors the truckers against trafficking that drive for your company; partner with TAT to assist law enforcement; share the TAT newsletter with employees; tell others in the trucking industry about TAT and why it’s important to train; become a corporate sponsor, and consider donating a haul of the Freedom Drivers Project (TAT’s unique mobile museum) to one of many TAT events across the country.
Even concerned members of the public can join TAT’s efforts, through referrals, fundraisers, or by hosting a screening of TAT’s training video.
When the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) began in late December 2007, there were zero calls from truckers. In 2008, there were only three truckers who called in to report a potential situation. With the beginning of TAT in 2009, those numbers began to grow, with the vast majority of calls coming in recent years. Today, more than 2,782 calls have been made to the NHTH by people identifying as truckers, which have generated more than 715 likely cases of human trafficking, involving over 303 victims. And those numbers are only a small slice of the data. TAT knows from surveys and anecdotal evidence that many more cases have been reported to 911 or local sheriffs’ offices around the country. TAT still encourages reporting to the NHTH because they are the only organization in the country geo-tracking this data. There are currently 1,206,596 people registered as TAT trained.
Part of the main focus of the training initiatives is to educate truckers away from thinking “she’s a prostitute” and towards thinking “she’s a potential victim”. In the training video, a woman named Shari shares the story of how she was forced and coerced into sexual slavery along with her cousin. TAT chose to have Shari share her story to help everyone understand how so many victims end up on the lot.
TAT says the number one response TAT gets from drivers who are first finding out about the program is “I have daughters, I have granddaughters. How can I be a trucker against trafficking?”
TAT’s core message is a simple one. If you see a minor selling commercial sex, or if you suspect any kind of pimp control, call the national hotline at 1-888-373-7888 and report what you know. The training materials are out there, free of charge. Putting a stop to human trafficking is just a matter of implementation.
“If you are willing to work hard, partner well, and persevere through the challenges, you would be pretty amazed at how many people will come together around this cause. This is dark work and at times it seems like the bad guys are always winning, but then I remember drivers, company executives, and law enforcement people who we’ve worked with over the years and I remember that the good guys outnumber the bad, that progress is being made, that awareness is on the rise, and that this incredible, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth, moving army is truly being mobilized,” said Paris, concluded.
Originally written 10/26/2016. Updated by Laura Cyrus of TAT on 7/23/2021
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