There is one profession in America with the power to to single-handedly thwart hundreds of pimps and traffickers across the country every day. It's not police officers, firemen, or even emergency room nurses. It's truckers. Truck drivers and the trucking industry are on the front lines of the child trafficking epidemic in the U.S. And many of them are putting the brakes on child trafficking.
Prostitution at truck stops has become so ubiquitous, the industry has developed a term for the women -- "lot lizards". But in recent years, many of the girls and women previously slapped with this degrading label have turned out to be human trafficking victims. Just last month, a phone call from a concerned truck driver resulted in police finding a 14 and 15 year old girl who were being forced into prostitution at truck stops in Oklahoma. Another 2006 bust found 20 trafficked girls being pimped at truck stops in California, the youngest of them just 13. And one of the largest child trafficking rings ever busted by the FBI took place in truck stops across Pennsylvania and Ohio. Truck stops are increasingly becoming a hot-spot for child sex trafficking.
But truck drivers and trucking companies are uniquely poised to stop child sex trafficking at truck stops. Truck drivers are in an ideal position to observe the prostitution and trafficking that takes place at truck stops and report the presence of minors and adult women who look frightened or like they aren't in control of the situation. As frequent travelers, truckers have the opportunity to observe and report suspicious behavior or notice patterns as pimps move girls across state lines. Both male and female truckers can challenge the macho, male-dominated culture that can sometimes support the exploitation of girls and women within the industry. And of course, truckers can make the call that saves a girl from a lifetime of slavery, like in this excellent video from Truckers Against Trafficking.
But we need more than just individual truckers as the heroes in this story. We need more than just grassroots efforts, effective as they may be, from groups like Truckers Against Trafficking and The Defenders USA. We need the whole trucking industry to step up and make the decision to stop the exploitation and trafficking of girls and women at truck stops. That means educating members of the trucking industry on what human trafficking is and how to stop it.
With over 650 locations around the country, Pilot Flying J is one of the best-known names in trucking. If they take steps as simple as training their staff and placing awareness fliers in public places like restrooms and restaurants, Flying J could truly become a leader in the fight against child trafficking at truck stops. Will you ask them to take a stand against child trafficking and incorporate human trafficking training and awareness into their company?